The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) continues to see a sharp increase in adult abuse reports across the state. Adult Abuse Prevention Month in July is intended to raise awareness and remind everyone to remain vigilant when it comes to the health and welfare of some of Washington’s most vulnerable citizens.
Financial exploitation is the most common type of adult abuse, and the form that has seen the sharpest rise in recent years. In 2017, DSHS’ Adult Protective Services conducted 10,713 investigations related to financial exploitation, nearly double the number of investigations conducted in 2012. It now accounts for more than 25% of all investigations.
Signs of financial exploitation include:
- Adding additional names on bank signature cards
- Unauthorized withdrawal of funds using an ATM card
- Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
- Unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
- Bills unpaid despite having sufficient funds
- Forging a signature on financial transactions or for the titles of possessions
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming rights to a vulnerable adult’s possessions
- Unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
Even with thousands of cases of adult abuse in a year, we know that for every investigation, many others go unreported. DSHS believes the increase in reports and investigations reflects improved awareness of adult abuse among the public. In addition, as our state’s population of people who are older continues to increase, the potential for adult abuse increases.
Anyone who suspects abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult is encouraged to make a report at www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/reportadultabuse or call 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276). You can make a report 24 hours a day, seven days a week and APS will contact you the next business day. All reports are confidential.
Signs of abuse include:
- Suspicious or unexplained bruises, sores or weight loss
- A sudden change in personality
- Neglect of hygiene, clothing, home, medicine or food
- Personal belongings are missing
- Verbal aggression
- No longer attending social functions or regular activities
- Losing contact with family and friends, being isolated from loved ones