Vulnerable Adult Abuse Prevention
Vulnerable adult abuse is a term used to describe any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Much of the literature refers to older adults, but abuse can also occur with younger adults that need the help of others for their care.
Self-neglect is a condition in which an individual neglects to attend to their own basic needs, such as personal hygiene, appropriate clothing, feeding, or tending appropriately to any medical conditions they have.
If you suspect a vulnerable adult is being harmed
Call Adult Protective Services to report it. If the person is in immediate danger, call 911. You do not need proof to report suspected abuse and you do not need to give your name when you call.
When you call:
You will be asked to give the person’s name, address, contact information and details about why you are concerned. You will also be asked for your name and number or some way of contacting you if the investigator has follow up questions. Unless there is a court action, law enforcement has been called in, or you agree, your identity is confidential. If you report in good faith, you cannot be held liable for any damages resulting from reporting.
From the Northwest Justice Project, read Protecting Elders and Vulnerable Adults from Abuse and Neglect (also available as a PDF) to learn definitions, what to look for, reporting abuse or neglect, prevention strategies and protection options.
Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation: Additional legal information from Washington Law Help
The Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s Vulnerable Adult Abuse webpage
Washington State Law Abuse of Vulnerable Adults (RCW 74.34)
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. You can reach the Hotline 24 hours at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA): Directed by the U.S. Administration on Aging, NCEA is a resource for policy makers, social service and healthcare practitioners, the justice system, researchers, advocates, and families.
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA): an association of researchers, practitioners, educators, and advocates dedicated to protecting the safety, security, and dignity of America's most vulnerable citizens.
The Elder Justice Coalition was created to increase public awareness about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation at local, state, and national levels, as well as support, and funding for the Elder Justice Act. It also monitors other relevant legislation and regulations that pertain to the prevention of elder abuse.