Get the Facts

Learn how to recognize adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation

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Adult Protective Services

Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly or adults with disabilities. When maltreatment is confirmed, APS provides or arranges services in an attempt to alleviate the problem. APS is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of vulnerable adults in Texas.

Many people who are elderly or have disabilities live alone or are dependent on others for their care. Isolation is a factor that places vulnerable adults at risk for abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Make it your mission to remember the elderly and adults with disabilities in your community.

As the public becomes more aware of vulnerable adults and their needs, APS will continue to see an increase in the number of reports. More than half of all cases reported to APS involve neglect. Most involve self-neglect. Through illness or diminished mental capacity, vulnerable adults may no longer be able to provide adequately for their own health and safety. They may live in unsanitary conditions, without heat or running water, or may need assistance with meals and other daily activities. They may also require medical care.

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Possible Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But there may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.

Physical Signs

  • Injury that has not been cared for properly
  • Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause
  • Pain from touching
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
  • Poor coloration
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Inappropriate administration of medication
  • Soiled clothing or bed
  • Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping
  • Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities
  • Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items
  • Forced isolation

Behavioral Signs

  • Fear
  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Anger
  • Isolation, withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
  • Contradictory statements, implausible stories
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Confusion or disorientation

Signs by Caregiver

  • Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
  • Lack of affection toward elder
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Withholds affection
  • Talks of elder as a burden

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice.
  • Unexplained withdrawal of a lot of money by a person accompanying the victim.
  • Adding additional names on a bank signature card.
  • Unapproved withdrawal of funds using an ATM card.
  • Sudden changes in a will or other financial documents.
  • Unexplained missing funds or valuables.
  • Providing substandard care.
  • Unpaid bills despite having enough money.
  • Forged signature for financial transactions or for the titles of property.
  • Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a person's affairs and possessions.
  • Unexplained sudden transfer of assets.
  • Providing unnecessary services.
  • A complaint of financial exploitation.

Learn more about reporting suspected abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of Adults.

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(from Texas Human Resources Code, Section 48.002)

Abuse is "(A) the negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment of an elderly or disabled person with resulting physical or emotional harm or pain, or (B) sexual abuse, including any involuntary or nonconsensual sexual conduct that would constitute an offense under Section 21.08, Penal Code (indecent exposure) or Chapter 22, Penal Code (assaultive offenses), committed by the person's caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person."

Neglect is "the failure to provide for one's self the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services.

Exploitation is "the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the elderly or disabled person using the resources of an elderly or disabled person for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the elderly or disabled person."

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Adult Protective Services Facts and Figures

  • Texas has more than 2.5 million residents age 65 or older according to population projections.
  • Nearly one out of five people have a disability, and almost one-half of people over 65 have a disability.
  • In Fiscal Year 2012, Adult Protective Services completed 87,487 investigations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving adults living at home. Of these, more than 59,595 were validated.
  • In Fiscal Year 2012, Adult Protective Services completed 10,803 mental health and intellectual disability (MH&ID) investigations, which include settings such as state hospitals, schools, and centers.
  • In the last decade, the number of in-home cases investigated by Adult Protective Services has increased by 35%.
  • More than 90% of the allegations of maltreatment that are validated in APS in-home cases include neglect.

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Factors Contributing to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation:

  • Aging population
  • Growing number of adults with disabilities
  • Alcohol and drug dependency
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of affordable housing and high costs of utility bills
  • De-institutionalization of persons who are mentally ill and/or mentally retarded when community support is not adequate
  • Inadequate access to health care and costly medications
  • Pathological family relationships/violence as a coping mechanism in society
  • Physical and mental stress of caregiving in traditionally non-violent, caring households
  • Denial of benefits, such as SSI and Medicaid, to some elderly and disabled immigrants
  • Waiting lists and other limitations in the availability of in-home care and home health care
  • Shortage of resources to serve persons denied long-term care and other benefits under welfare reform
  • Lack of access to affordable health care and prescription drugs
  • Inadequate community services for persons discharged from state hospitals and schools
  • Lack of statewide access to preventative or early intervention services such as case management for elderly persons and adults with disabilities who are at risk but not yet experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation

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