Adult Protective Services

(National Center on Elder Abuse) Adult Protective Services (APS) are those services provided to insure the safety and well-being of elders and adults with disabilities who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected, are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm, and have no one to assist them.

Interventions provided by Adult Protective Services include, but are not limited to, receiving reports of adult abuse, exploitation or neglect, investigating these reports, case planning, monitoring and evaluation. In addition to casework services, Adult Protection may provide or arrange for the provision of medical, social, economic, legal, housing, law enforcement or other protective, emergency or supportive services.

In most states, APS caseworkers are the first responders to reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults.

A vulnerable adult is defined as a person who is being mistreated or is in danger of mistreatment and who, due to age and/or disability, is unable to protect himself or herself

Most APS programs serve both older and younger vulnerable adults. In some states, APS is responsible only for cases involving older adults (eligibility may be based on age, incapacity or vulnerability of the adult). A few APS programs serve only younger adults ages 18-59.

APS Interventions

  • Receiving reports of elder/vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation
  • Investigating these reports
  • Assessing victim’s risk
  • Assessing victim’s capacity to understand his/her risk and ability to give informed consent
  • Developing case plan
  • Arranging for emergency shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and supportive services
  • Service monitoring
  • Evaluation
  • For an illustration on the APS investigation process, please see the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) APS Example Flow Chart Download Adobe PDF Reader.

Additional Information About APS

Please select from the following list for more information related to:

Social Services

Professionals and volunteers who provide aging and disability services are well-positioned to identify and report when someone is being mistreated. Their services may be called for to assist survivors of abuse and neglect. Members of the aging and disability network can also educate consumers and family members about prevention strategies.

Here are some examples of what Area Agencies on Aging are doing to prevent elder abuse! Download Adobe PDF Reader

One of the roles that Adult Protective Services can play is putting together a plan of care marshalling other social services to enhance quality of life, reduce the negative impacts of the experience of abuse, and to reduce the future risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Aging and disability services can include:

  • In-home supportive services
  • Nutrition programs, including meals on wheels
  • Home modifications
  • Transportation arrangements
  • Caregiver supports
  • Assistive devices to aid with daily activities
  • Benefits and pension counseling
  • Linkages with other aging and disability resources

Learn about social services for Older Americans and Individuals with Disabilities by visiting these websites:

APS and other social services providers can also help clients develop a safety plan. Safety plans may include connections with domestic violence shelters, counseling, and other services.

Other Intervention Partners

When abuse and neglect occurs, those involved often intersect with many systems. Click the links below to learn about some of the main organizations and systems that address elder and vulnerable adult mistreatment.


National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging