Health and Human Services Agency

Adult Protective Services

(530) 642-4800

June is Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Awareness Month. The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Adult Protective Services (APS) program is reminding residents to be aware that abuse does happen to elderly and dependent adults, to know the signs of abuse and how to report it.

Last year, El Dorado County APS investigated approximately 1,000 reported cases of elder or dependent adult abuse, according to Pamela Carter, APS Program Manager. “When you learn of a frail grandmother or disabled person being physically, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected it truly breaks your heart,” said Carter. “Our job in APS is to try to assess the situation, get the person to the help they may need and take steps to prevent future harm.”

In California, an estimated 120,000 cases of suspected elder and dependent adult abuse are reported each year. Yet, that figure may be low. “For every reported case of elder or dependent adult abuse in California, it is believed that as many as four cases go unreported,” said Carter. “The safety of our seniors and dependent adults is always in the forefront of our minds. It is important that everyone in the community knows the signs of possible abuse or neglect, and that they report their concerns. They shouldn’t assume someone else is going to do it.”

The State of California recognizes six types of abuse:

  1. Self-Neglect - Refusal or failure to provide himself/herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene or medications (if indicated).
  2. Physical Abuse - The use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain or impairment, or any physical injury to an adult caused by other than accidental means.
  3. Neglect by Others - Failure to provide the basic care or services necessary to maintain the health and safety of an adult; this failure can be active or passive.
  4. Sexual Abuse - Sexual contact with a non-consenting adult or with an adult considered incapable of consenting to a sexual act.
  5. Financial Abuse - The illegal or unethical exploitation and/or use of an elder’s money, property or other assets.
  6. Mental Abuse - Verbal or emotional abuse such as threatening significant physical harm or threatening or causing significant emotional harm to an adult through the use of derogatory or inappropriate names, insults, verbal assaults, profanity or ridicule; or harassment, coercion, threats, intimidation, humiliation, mental cruelty or inappropriate sexual comments.   

According to Carter, victims often suffer multiple forms of abuse at the hands of their abuser. Signs of abuse or neglect can include: 

  • Bruises, black eyes and broken bones
  • Bloody, ripped or stained clothing, sheets
  • Lack of adequate food, water or other amenities
  • Cluttered, filthy living environment
  • Dirty clothing and changes in personal hygiene
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior
  • Unexplained purchases by the primary caregiver, or unpaid bills, new credit cards or increased cash withdrawals
  • Harassment, coercion, intimidation, humiliation

APS has a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuse of older adults and disabled adults. To report suspected abuse or neglect call (530) 642-4800. To report suspected abuse of an elder in a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or assisted living facility, contact the State Crisis Line number: 1-800-231-4024 or the El Dorado County Long Term Care Ombudsman program at (530) 621-6271. For additional information about the APS or Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs in El Dorado County, visit

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