Health and Human Services Agency

Adult Protective Services

(530) 642-4800

Home for the Holidays:

Know the Signs and Keep Older Adults Safe


(Placerville, CA) - Many people do not get to see their loved ones as often as they would like. The holidays offer an opportunity to not only reconnect with and visit parents, grandparents and other loved ones, but to ensure that they are staying safe. "If you are visiting your loved one and become concerned about their wellbeing, particularly if you suspect they may be a victim of neglect, self-neglect or abuse, please reach out for assistance," said Laura Walny, Manager with the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency. 

According to Walny, some older adults, particularly those that live alone, may not notice gradual changes in their health or living situation that could put them at risk. Family members can play an important role in helping their older loved ones identify risks and vulnerabilities, and to come up with a plan together to keep them safe. If individuals or families have concerns, they are encouraged to reach out to Adult Protective Services to ask questions and get information on the services and supports that are available in the County. Having conversations early on can help prevent a situation from becoming a crisis.

Common Signs of Self Neglect

If the older adult lives alone and does not have anyone providing assistance, self-neglect may become an issue. An older adult may be experiencing self-neglect if they:

  • Appear confused
  • Can no longer manage meal preparation, bathing, bill paying, etc.
  • Seem depressed or withdrawn from usual activities
  • Are drinking too much or abusing drugs
  • Experience frequent falls
  • Appear malnourished, dehydrated, under-medicated, or are not addressing problems with eyesight, hearing, dental issues, incontinence, etc.
  • Are living in a home that is unkempt or unsafe

Common Signs of Neglect or Abuse by Others

If the older adult lives with others or has someone coming in to help, neglect or abuse may become an issue. The following may be signs of neglect or abuse by others:

  • A "new best friend" who is willing to care for the older adult for little or no cost
  • Recent changes in banking or spending patterns
  • Older adult is isolated from friends and family
  • Caregiver has problems with drugs, alcohol, anger and/or emotional instability
  • Caregiver is financially dependent on the older person
  • Older adult appears uncomfortable around or afraid of the caregiver
  • Older adult has unexplained bruises, cuts, etc.
  • Older adult has "bed sores" (pressure sores from lying in one place for too long)
  • Older adult appears unkempt, malnourished, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated, or is not receiving needed care for problems
  • Family pet seems neglected or abused

El Dorado County Adult Protective Services can offer guidance and support, and connect individuals and families to services and resources to help stabilize an unsafe situation. "We can help individuals navigate the service delivery system, provide an in-person assessment if needed, and help families troubleshoot situations to support the health and safety of our community," said Walny.

For more information on available resources, please contact El Dorado County Adult Protective Services at (530) 642-4800 or visit During an emergency, please call 911 or contact the nearest law enforcement agency.


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