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Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation

Older Americans and adults with disabilities are often the targets of abuse. This is because they are often unable to make a complaint or are afraid to lodge a complaint.

Vulnerable adult abuse is especially tragic because in many of these cases the abuser is in a position of trust; as a caregiver, a guardian, a trustee, or even a family member. By being aware of the signs of possible abuse, neglect and exploitation, you can help protect victims.

Some Common signs of financial exploitation include:

  • Social Isolation;
  • Inability to pay for healthcare;
  • New power of attorney by unknown person;
  • Lack of funds to pay for common life expenses.

Some common signs of physical abuse include:

  • Frequent unexplained injuries or complaints of pain without any obvious injury;
  • Burns or bruises suggesting the use of instruments, cigarettes, etc.;
  • Passive, withdrawn, and emotionless behavior;
  • Lack of reaction to pain;
  • Patient reports physical abuse.

Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Injuries to genital area;
  • Difficulty sitting and walking;
  • Fear of being alone with caretaker;
  • Patient reports sexual abuse.

Some common signs of neglect include:

  • Obvious malnutrition;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness;
  • Individual is routinely dressed in torn or dirty clothing;
  • Obvious fatigue and listlessness;
  • Person is begging for food or water;
  • Person is in need of medical or dental care;
  • Person is left unattended for long periods of time.

Abuse of vulnerable adults is a crime. If you suspect vulnerable adult abuse, whether its at home, in a nursing home, or anywhere else, contact your local police.

You should also contact the Department of Human Service, Division of Long Term Services and Supports through Dakota at Home 1-833-663-9673, or the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 605-773-4102.

Elder Abuse Crime Statistics (Adobe PDF File)