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Preventing Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse

Preventing Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse

This month we had the opportunity to learn about Adult Protective Services and the prevention of abuse for vulnerable and elderly adults.  Debbie Booth from Adult Protective Services taught how we as professional caregivers can prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the seniors in our care.   

Who is considered a Vulnerable Adult?

  • An elder adult, defined as anyone 65 years of age or older.
  • An adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to:
    • Provide personal protection
    • Provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or mental or other health care
    • Obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare
    • Carry out activities of daily living
    • Manage the adult’s resources
    • Comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse

What can Adult Protective Services do? 

  • Investigate reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Perform needs assessments
  • Coordinate with and refer to community resources for services

What can Adult Protective Services not do?

  • Take custody of an adult.
    • Adults have the right of self-determination unless there is imminent danger of injury or death
  • Under APS authority, place an adult in a nursing home or other facility.
  • Provide any service without the voluntary consent of the alleged victim or their guardian/conservator unless court ordered to do so.

“…Caretakers are our eyes and ears in terms of protecting this very vulnerable population.”

– Debbie Booth

Debbie also taught our team how to spot and report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults by being aware and watchful of the following signs:


  • Unexplained bruises or welts
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
  • Unexplained fractures, abrasions, and lacerations
  • Multiple injuries
  • Low self-esteem or loss of self-determination
  • Withdrawn, passive, fearful
  • Reports or suspicions of sexual abuse


  • Dehydration
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or other aides if usually worn
  • Malnourishment
  • Inappropriate or soiled clothes
  • Over or under medicated
  • Deserted or abandoned
  • Unattended


  • Over or under medicated
  • Social isolation
  • Malnourishment or dehydration
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of glasses, dentures, or hearing aides, if needed
  • Failure to keep medical appointments


  • Possessions disappear
  • Forced to sell house or change one’s will
  • Overcharged for home repairs
  • Inadequate living environment
  • Unable to afford social activities
  • Forced to sign over control of finances
  • No money for food or clothes

In the state of Utah, it is the law that any person who has reason to believe that a vulnerable adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited must immediately notify Adult Protective Services intake or the nearest law enforcement office.


To Report Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Please call:

Salt Lake: 801-538-3567

Statewide: 800-371-7897

Click here to learn more about APS
Visit our website at aspenseniorcare.com for more information regarding in-home senior care.

**All information was provided by Debbie Booth from the Division of Aging and Adult Services for the State of Utah Department of Human Services**