What is Adult Protective Services?


May 17, 2023

Adult Protective Services

In the state of Texas, Adult Protective Services (APS) is managed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Their mission is to protect older adults and persons with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating and providing or arranging for services, if needed, to stop or prevent further harm.


Texas is a MANDATORY Reporting State
Abuse Hotline: 1-800-252-5400 —  www.txabusehotline.org

Adult Protective Services’ Overview:

Adult Protective Services serves people over the age of 65 and adults 18 years and older with a mental, physical, or developmental disability that substantially impairs the person’s ability to provide adequately for the person’s care or protection

Responsibilities include: 

APS investigates abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults who are elderly or have disabilities and who live in the community. Any adult who has a disability or who is age 65 or older that is in a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation may be eligible to receive adult protective services.

Victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation may get short-term help with shelter, home repairs, food, transportation, managing money, medical care, home healthcare services, and mental health services. Abuse may cause various injuries such as scratches, cuts, bruises, burns, broken bones, or bedsores. It can also result in confinement, rape or sexual misconduct, and verbal or psychological abuse. Neglect may cause starvation, dehydration, over- or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, lack of personal hygiene. Neglected adults may also not have heat, running water, electricity, medical care. Exploitation may result in loss of property, money, or income. Exploitation means misusing the resources of an elderly or disabled person for personal or monetary benefit. This includes taking Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) checks, misusing a joint checking account, or taking property and other resources.

Sometimes adults who are 65 years old or older or those who have disabilities may become isolated or ill and not have someone who is willing and able to help meet their basic needs.

What is a Substantial Impairment?

A substantial impairment is a disability that grossly and chronically diminishes physical or mental ability to live independently or provide self-care. 

A mental, physical, or developmental disability is a professionally diagnosed medical condition, with reported or observed behavior that is consistent with such a diagnosis, that causes a long-lasting and considerable inability to live independently or provide self-care.

Activity limitations may include: 

  • Shopping, cooking, housekeeping, administering medications;
  • Dressing in clothing appropriate for the weather;
  • Obtaining needed medical services, support services, or transportation;
  • Making sound decisions; or
  • Preventing harm to self or others.

Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

Negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment resulting in physical or emotional harm or pain to an elderly or disabled person by the person’s caretaker, family member or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person. (Texas Human Resources Code 48.002)

Physical Abuse indicators may include:

  • Bruises, burns, unexplained injuries.
  • Pushed or shoved, manipulated by force.
  • Bathed, changed, or dressed with unnecessary force.
  • Forced to place limbs in unnatural or painful positions.

Verbal and/or Emotional abuse indicators include: 

  • Fear of the perpetrator
  • Low self-esteem, depression
  • Caretaker yelling, cursing, or screaming
  • Threats of harm
  • Intimidation

Sexual Abuse is defined as:

Nonconsensual sexual activity, which may include, but is not limited to any activity that would be a sexually-oriented offense per Texas Penal Code, such as indecent exposure, or public indecency committed by a paid or non-paid caretaker; a family member; or another individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim. (Texas Human Resources Code 48.002)

Sexual Abuse Indicators may include:

  • Sexual Transmitted disease
  • Unexplained Pregnancy
  • Unexplained rectal bleeding
  • Bruising or other injuries

Neglect is defined as: 

The failure to provide for one’s self the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain, or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services. (Texas Human Resources Code 48.002)

Indicators of neglect may include:

  • Malnutrition, dehydration, poor hygiene
  • Evidence of inadequate care
  • Unsafe, unsanitary living conditions
  • Lack of basic necessities or needed equipment
  • Over or under medicating

Behavioral Indicators may include: 

  • Fear, anxiety, nervousness
  • Refusal or reluctance to talk in presence of a caretaker • Disorientation or confusion
  • Agitation
  • Contradictory statements
  • Afraid to get family in trouble
  • No one else available for caregiving

Exploitation is defined as: 

The illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the elderly or disabled person using the resources of an elderly or disabled person for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain without the informed consent of the elderly or disabled person. (Texas Human Resources Code 48.002)

Impact of Financial Exploitation

  • Loss of Resources
  • Loss of Independence
  • Increase in Mental Health Issues
  • Inability to Pay Expenses
  • Inability to replace lost assets through employment
  • Inability to hire an attorney to pursue legal protections and remedies

Indicators of Financial Exploitation:

  • Sudden changes in bank account or banking practice
  • Unexplained withdrawal of a lot of money by person accompanying the alleged victim
  • Unapproved withdrawal of funds using an ATM card
  • Unexplained missing funds or valuables
  • Providing substandard care
  • Unpaid bills despite having enough money
  • Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to a person’s affairs or possessions
  • Providing unnecessary services

Perpetrator Indicators:

  • Prevents the client from speaking or seeing visitors, friends, or family.
  • Anger or indifference; aggressive behavior toward the client.
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence.
  • Lack of affection towards the client.
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents.
  • Talks about the client as being a burden.
  • Shows more concern for the inheritance than the client.
  • Blames the client for their actions.
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship.


The law mandates any person (18 years or older) who suspects that a vulnerable adult is in a state of abuse, neglect or exploitation shall immediately report the information to Adult Protective Services. Helpful information for reporting:

  • Name, DOB, and current address of the alleged victim
  • A brief description of the situation
  • Details about the alleged perpetrator
  • Current injuries and medical conditions
  • Names and phone numbers of relatives, neighbors, and friends that may have knowledge of the situation
  • Reporter should provide all appropriate contact information

Facts and Figures

  • >3.5 million older adults in the State of Texas
  • Almost one-half of all older adults nationwide have a disability
  • there are 1.7 million adults with a disability in Texas
  • Nearly 1 out of 7 people have a disability
  • in 2020, Texas Adult Protective Services received 117,034 intake reports
    • of those cases, APS confirmed 73,567 perpetrators

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety and Adult Protective Service 101

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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