Adult Protective Services

The Adult Protective Services (APS) Program is state supervised and locally administered through 120 local departments of social services.

To report suspected adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call your local departments of social services or the 24-hour, toll-free
APS hotline at: 1 888 832-3858.

What if I’m not sure?
Do you just have a “feeling” about a situation but can’t verify the details? APS professionals are trained to handle such situations.
Based on your report, APS will assess the situation and determine how best to respond. Your local department of social services can determine the best course of action in any given situation.

APS receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults 60 years of age or older and incapacitated adults aged 18 or older.

If protective services are needed and accepted by the individual, local APS workers may arrange for a wide variety of health, housing, social and legal services to stop the mistreatment or prevent further mistreatment.

Services offered may include home-based care, transportation, adult day services, adult foster care, nutrition services and legal intervention in order to protect the adult. Services may also be arranged for individuals in emergency situations who lack the capacity to consent to services.

Rights of Adults

Adults have the right:

  • To be treated with dignity and respect
  • To refuse treatment and assistance        
  • To make their own choices about how and where they will live (self-determination)
  • To privacy 



The adult is in charge of decision-making until he or she delegates that responsibility voluntarily to another or the court grants that responsibility to another person.
Adults with capacity have the right to refuse services even if everyone involved in the case believes that assistance is needed.

Incapacitated Person

An adult who is impaired by:

  • Mental Illness
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Physical Illness or Disability
  • Advanced Age
  • Other Causes

   to the extent that the adult lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate or carry out reasonable decisions regarding his/her well-being.

Virginia Adult Protective Services logo


An adult is living under such circumstances that he/she is not able to provide for him/herself or is not being provided services necessary to maintain his/her physical/mental health and that the failure to receive such necessary services impairs or threatens to impair his/her well-being.

Indicators: untreated medical conditions, pressure sores, fecal/urine smell, lack of food, dirt/fleas/lice on the person, soiled bedding/furniture, dehydration.

An adult who is not meeting their own basic needs related to mental/physical impairments.  Basic needs refers to food, clothing, shelter, health/medical care.

This is the MOST common type of APS report that is received and investigated.

The illegal use of an incapacitated adult or their resources for another’s profit or advantage.
The most common type of exploitation is Financial Exploitation

Indicators: unexplained disappearance of funds, misuse of money or property by another person, change in payee or power of attorney, chronic failure to pay bills.

Exploitation can take on various forms, for example:

  • when the older individual is forced to work without compensation.
  • when a homebound person can only get groceries by agreeing to pay for her neighbor's groceries too.
  • when someone moves into a person’s home and living rent free without agreement or under duress.

The willful infliction of physical pain, injury, or mental anguish or unreasonable confinement of an adult. 

Indicators: multiple or severe bruising, fractures, over medicated, restrained inappropriately, isolated.


Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation