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Adult Protective Services (APS)

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Adult Protective Services (APS)

For more information send us an email or phone 800-510-2020 (within San Diego County) or 800-339-4661 (outside the County).

APS serves adults 65 and older and dependent adults 18 and older, who are harmed, or threatened with harm, to ensure their right to safety and dignity. APS investigates elder and dependent adult abuse, including cases of neglect and abandonment, as well as physical, sexual and financial abuse.


Abuse Categories

APS investigates reports of elder and dependent adult abuse. There are many types of abuse that can occur. The following list outlines some of the more common types of abuse.

Types of abuse:

  • Physical: Direct beatings, lack of medical care or overmedication, sexual exploitation
  • Abandonment: Desertion or willful forsaking by anyone having responsibility for care
  • Isolation: Preventing a dependent adult from receiving mail, telephone calls, visitors
  • Financial: Theft, misuse of funds or property, extortion, duress, fraud
  • Neglect: Denial of food, clothing, shelter, health care. Or unable to provide basic needs
  • Self-neglect: Malnutrition, being unkempt, unmet medical needs, unpaid bills
  • Mental suffering: Verbal assaults, threats, fear

Signs of trouble

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 elder 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

Benefits to reporting abuse

  • The elder or dependent adult will be given options to keep him/her safe from harm
  • 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


Reporting Abuse

The following information will clarify who can report abuse and how to report abuse of older and disabled adults.

What is a mandatory reporter?

Mandatory reporters include any person who has assumed full or partial responsibility for the needs or care of an elder or dependent adult. Other mandatory reporters include health practitioners, law enforcement and emergency response personnel, the clergy, public social service employees or any other elder or dependent adult care custodian.

How is a referral made?

Anyone can make a referral to the APS, not just mandated reporters. Call toll-free any time of the day or night, any day of the week.

What must be reported?

  • Call 911 if a life-threatening situation is in progress
  • Contact APS for any observation or suspicion of physical abuse, financial abuse, abandonment, isolation, abduction, neglect by others or neglect by self

What happens after a report is made?

A social services professional will determine how soon a social worker will respond to the report based on the seriousness of the situation. The reporter will be contacted after an APS worker has been assigned to the case.

If you are interested in having a presentation about elder abuse or related issues, contact our Outreach & Education Team at 858-495-5769.

If you are interested in information about the County's Elder Death Review Team, click here.


For more information send us an email or phone 800-510-2020 (within San Diego County) or 800-339-4661 (outside the County).