DSHS: Adult abuse reaches unprecedented levels in Washington state

Authorities from the Department of Social and Health Services said adult abuse has reached unprecedented levels in Washington state.

In 2018, Adult Protective Services received more than 60,000 reports of vulnerable adult abandonment, abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect. The number of cases has risen over the past several years; 48,000 cases were reported in 2017 and 19,000 cases were reported in 2012.

“We have an increasing number of vulnerable adults in Washington state,” Kathy Morgan, APS Director, said in a release Thursday. “Our job is to promote individual choice while offering protective services.”

According to the legal definition, “vulnerable adults” include people 60 years old and over with a physical, functional or mental inability to care for themselves. It also includes people 18 years and older with a developmental disability, under a legal guardian, admitted to a DSHS-licensed facility or someone who receives services in their own home.

“We rely on the public to be our eyes and ears when it comes to vulnerable adult abuse,” said Morgan. “Understanding and identifying the signs of abuse is the first step in protecting people. Many cases go unreported simply because no one realized what was going on. If you’re unsure whether someone is experiencing abuse or neglect, please make a report to APS.”

Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed June 2019 Adult Abuse Awareness Month; it is a time designed to promote education, identification and reporting across the state.

Suspected cases of abandonment, abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect can be reported to APS online or by calling 1-866-END-HARM.

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