Adult Protective Services
All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Adult Protective Services (APS) accepts and investigates reports of suspected abuse or neglect involving older adults age 60+ and adults with disabilities ages 18- 59.
How Can APS Help?
By contacting APS to report suspected abuse, neglect or self-neglect you can help to improve the safety of older adults and adults with disabilities. APS assesses each individual’s unique needs, then works with them to develop a service plan to maintain their safety, health and independence as much as possible.
Anyone can make a confidential or anonymous report, day or night, by calling:
Reports that do not involve physical abuse or require immediate attention can be made online. Call 911 if a life-threatening situation in is progress
There are many types of abuse that can occur. Some of the more common types of abuse include:
- Physical: Hitting, kicking, over or under medication
- Sexual exploitation: Unwanted sexual contact, sexual exploitation, forced views of pornography
- Abandonment: Desertion or willful forsaking by anyone having responsibility for care
- Isolation: Preventing an older or dependent adult from receiving mail, telephone calls, visitors
- Financial: Theft, misuse of funds or property, extortion, duress, fraud
- Neglect: Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care under one’s care
- Self-neglect: failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, or health care for one’s self
- Mental suffering: Verbal assaults, threats, humiliation
The following items are possible warning signs that abuse might be occurring to an older or disabled adult. If you observe some or all of these occurring with an older or disabled adult you know, consider alerting Adult Protective Services.
- Injury that is inconsistent with the explanation for its cause
- The older or dependent adult has recently become confused or disoriented
- The caregiver shows anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward the person
- Personal belongings, papers, credit cards are missing
- Hesitation from the elder to talk openly
- The caregiver has a history of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence
- Lack of necessities, such as food, water, utilities, medications and medical care
- Another person's name added to the client's bank account or important documents, or frequent checks made out to "cash".
- The elder or dependent adult will be given options to increase their safety
- The APS worker can link the client, family to needed community resources
- Unaware family members, friends can be alerted to step in to help
- The APS worker can find ways to help the caregiver handle stress
- In some cases, the abuse perpetrator can be prosecuted, lessening the harm to others
- The reporter feels relief that a professional is assessing the situation
Volunteer speakers help educate the community about elder abuse prevention and identification, including the crime of elder financial abuse. Contact the Sonoma County Elder Justice Coalition to request a presentation.
Mandated reporters are required by law to report the observation, knowledge or reasonable suspicion of elder and dependent adult abuse to APS or law enforcement.
Mandated Reporters Are:
- Care custodians and health practitioners
- County welfare departments
- Employees of law enforcement and fire departments
- Employees of humane societies and animal control agencies
- Employees of environmental health and building code enforcement
- Clergy members
- Any other protective, public, sectarian, mental health, private assistance or advocacy agency, or person providing health services or social services
- Any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not that person receives compensation
- Officers or employees of financial institutions who suspect financial abuse
To ask about your status as a mandated reporter, call (800) 667-0404.
When and How to Report
California law, under the Welfare & Institutions Code for Elder Abuse, mandates reporting of physical abuse, neglect, self-neglect, sexual abuse, mental suffering, financial abuse, isolation, abandonment or abduction of an elder or dependent adult when:
- The victim reports that abuse has occurred or has knowledge of abuse.
- The mandated reporter observes the incident.
- When an injury or condition reasonably leads the mandated reporter to suspect that abuse has occurred.
Failure of a mandated reporter to report suspected abuse and/or neglect is a misdemeanor. When the abuse results in death or great bodily harm to the elder, the penalties for failing to report are a sentence of up to one year in county jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Learn more about your responsibilities as a Mandated Reporter through free online trainings offered by APS. Call for more information: (707) 565-5900.