Newsletter Archive

Adult Protective Services Role – An Overview

Currently, Colorado is one of three states that does not require certain professionals, such as medical professionals, to report abuse or exploitation against seniors.  But that is about to change.  Beginning July 1, 2014, doctors, nurses, chiropractors, law enforcement officers, dentists, nursing home staff, home health care workers and others will be required to report any abuse, neglect, or exploitation of anyone over the age of 70 (see below for a full list of mandatory reporters).

Mandatory reporters will be required by law to report any incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to law enforcement within 24 hours of observing the abuse.  If a mandated reporter fails to report an incident to law enforcement they may be charged with a class III misdemeanor.

Abuse, neglect, and exploitation are serious crimes that not only physically and financially hurt the elderly but also rob them of the dignity they deserve.  Every year millions of elderly Americans suffer from some form of mistreatment, but it can difficult to know what is or is not a crime. 

Physical abuse is what many people think of when referring to mistreatment.  Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, burning, and confining or restraining an adult against their will. 

Sexual abuse happens when an individual is subjected to sexual conduct or contact against their will.  Sexual abuse includes sexual contact with an individual who lacks the ability to give consent due to mental or physical impairment.  Sexual abuse is a serious crime classified under the Colorado Criminal Code.

Neglect happens when the person who is responsible for the care of an at-risk adult does not provide enough physical care, health care, medication, food, shelter, or other necessities to an at-risk adult.  The caregiver may be a spouse or other family member, a home health provider, a nursing home staff member, or any other person with a legal responsibility to provide care to a person. 

Financial exploitation is using an at-risk adult’s money or property without the adult’s permission.  Basically, the suspected exploiter is stealing from the at-risk adult.  Signs of financial exploitation include unpaid monthly bills, bounced checks, missing income, unusual transfers of assets or property, and being denied access to accounts. Other forms of exploitation involve exploiting the at-risk adult by making them do things they wouldn’t usually do, such as forcing a frail at-risk adult to panhandle or using the at-risk adult’s home for the production or distribution of illegal drugs.
If you are a mandatory reporter and suspect someone 70 years old or older is being abused you should immediately report the situation to local law enforcement.
Individuals who witness or suspect abuse, neglect, or exploitation of at-risk adults younger than 70 are urged to report the mistreatment to law enforcement or the county department of social services.  At-risk adults are people age 18 or older who cannot provide for their own health, safety, or welfare, or obtain the services necessary to keep themselves safe and healthy.
Incidents such as self-neglect should be reported to the (County Name) County Department of (Social Human) Services at (County Phone Number).  Ask to speak to (Adult Protection Intake).  If calling about an emergency situation during non-business hours, contact (County Phone Number or law enforcement) to make the report.

All reports are confidential and can be made anonymously.  However, it is helpful to APS if you provide your contact information so APS can contact you, if needed.

  • Doctors, podiatrists, occupational therapists
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Medical examiners and coroners
  • Hospital and long term care facility personnel
  • Home health providers
  • Psychologists
  • Social work practitioners
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire protection personnel
  • Guardians
  • Conservators
  • Financial institutions staff
  • Community Centered Board staff
  • Any person associated with a licensed care facility, agency, home, or governing board
  • Emergency medical services providers
  • Physical therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Clergy

Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

S udden changes in behavior, finances, or lifestyle
P hysical injuries, dehydration, or malnourishment
E xtreme withdrawal, depression, or anxiety
A bsence of basic care or necessities
K ept away from others

U nsanitary living conditions
Personal items or money missing

Remember, it’s okay to SPEAK UP for at-risk adults.

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