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Vulnerable Adult Abuse


Resources for friends & family


If you know a vulnerable adult who is being harmed in any way, either by the actions of other people or through self- neglect, call one of the following numbers:

  •  If this is an emergency, immediately call 911
  • For long-term care residents:
  • For all others:
  Resources for Prosecutors  
  Prosecutor Manual  
  Resources for Law Enforcement  
  Law Enforcement Manual  

File a Medicaid Fraud Complaint


Phone: (360) 586-8888
Fax: (360) 586-8877
Mail:  Office of the Attorney General
Medicaid Fraud Control Unit
PO Box 40114
Olympia, WA  98504

More information on filing complaints

What is a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult is one who by virtue of:

  • Age
  • Physical injury
  • Disability
  • Disease or
  • Emotional or developmental disorders

is unable to independently provide for their own basic necessities of life.

This would include, but is not necessarily limited to:

  1. Adults who reside in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult family homes, boarding homes or assisted living facilities or
  2. Those who receive health care or other assistance in providing for the basic necessities of life while residing in their own home.

What is vulnerable adult abuse?

Vulnerable adult abuse is a term used to describe any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.

Elder Abuse is:

  • Pushing, hitting, punching
  • Shouting at, berating, intimidating, or threatening to harm an elderly person
  • Taking financial advantage of one who is lonely, vulnerable or has memory lapses
  • Taking money an elderly person needs, “borrowing” money with no intention to pay it back, tricking someone into buying something they have no use for
  • Neglecting an elderly person’s physical, medical and emotional needs or
  • Allowing an older adult to neglect their personal needs.

What to look for:

  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, burns, puncture wounds, cuts, sunken eyes and/or welts
  • Excessive fears, withdrawal, agitation
  • Sudden inability to pay bills, buy food or personal items
  • Changes in appetite or unusual weight gain or loss
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Does not know personal finances or
  • Unexplained changes in health.

What is self-neglect and what are the signs?
  • Hoarding
  • Failure to take essential medications or refusal to seek medical treatment for serious illness or injuries
  • Leaving a burning stove unattended
  • Poor hygiene
  • Not wearing suitable clothing for the weather
  • Confusion
  • Inability to attend to housekeeping or
  • Dehydration.

Tips for families and friends:

  • Respect and honor your elders
  • Report suspected abuse/mistreatment or self-neglect
  • Find sources of help and use them
  • Visit regularly monitor the well being of elderly neighbors
  • Keep track of medication and doctors’ visits
  • Volunteer to help
  • Realize abuse can happen in your family or neighborhood
  • Speak up when something looks or sounds wrong.

Warnings for older adults:

  • Don’t live with a person who has a background of violent behavior or alcohol or drug abuse
  • Don’t hesitate to tell others if you are abused, mistreated, neglected – your doctor, the clergy, a friend or family member
  • Don’t leave cash or valuables out in the open
  • Don’t give friends or family money you need to live on
  • Don’t sign a document unless someone you trust reads it
  • Don’t allow anyone to keep details of your finances or property from you.

Additional information regarding reporting fraud and/or abuseprotecting seniors and Medicaid Fraud is also available.   

Caring people can help stop elder abuse and mistreatment in their families and community: Take charge!

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