What Should I Do If I Believe an Elder Is Being Abused?

First, attempt to address the perceived abuse of the vulnerable adult personally.  There may be things you do not understand.  Talk with the caregiver and the potentially-abused adult.  Seek solutions.  If the abusive caregiver declines to speak to you directly, offer to hire a professional mediator to sit down with both you and the caregiver to facilitate your conversation.

If these direct approaches are impossible or unfruitful, then call Adult Protective Services.  Adult Protective Services is a government agency that investigates suspected abuse of vulnerable adults.  The agency maintains a statewide hotline for such concerns:  1-866-EndHarm (1-866-363-4276).

Adult Protective Services (“APS”) is a division of Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) that investigates allegations of the abuse, abandonment, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect of a vulnerable adult in Washington.  WAC 388-71-0105.  There is an APS office in each Washington county. In King County, APS can be reached at 1-866-221-4909.  The King County APS mailing address is P. O. Box 24847, MS N95-2, Seattle, WA  98124.

An APS investigation addresses allegations of abandonment, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect which, if substantiated, APS seeks the consent of the vulnerable adult for APS action to protect him by ending or prevent the harm.  Further, if there is a substantiated finding of abandonment, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect, APS investigates whether other adults in the context may be at risk of abandonment, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect.  WAC 388.71.0110.  The estate of a vulnerable adult about whose care an APS investigation is initiated is not liable to DSHS for the cost of that investigation.  WAC 388-527-2733(3). 

Brad Lancaster works as a Seattle divorce attorney, and Seattle probate attorney, and Seattle elder law attorney, serving King County and Snohomish County, including Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, Woodway, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Alderwood, Brier, Kenmore, Woodinville, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett.  Brad provides collaborative solutions to human conflict.

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