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Tennessee is shedding light on elder abuse

The Adult Protective Services (APS) program investigates allegations of the neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) by highlighting the impact the state’s Coordinated Community Response (CCR) has had over the last five years. 

The department’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program investigates allegations of the neglect (including self-neglect), abuse, and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. In 2016, APS led the creation of the CCR with 20 other government and non-profit agencies that play a role in responding to the abuse of vulnerable adults. The goal was to improve communications, streamline investigations, and reduce the number of abusive unlicensed facilities.

“The Coordinated Community Response has redefined how Tennessee supports adults who are experiencing vulnerable circumstances like the neglect of their own living conditions,” said TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter. “This joint effort provides the mechanism for a diverse group of agencies and organizations to work in conjunction and to meet the specific needs seniors and other vulnerable adults have.”

Neglect remains a concern for seniors across the state. Last year APS received more than fifteen thousand reports of neglect, including self-neglect, which occurs when the basic needs of a dependent adult aren’t being met. 

Neglect may be the unintentional result of a caregiver's inability to provide the care an adult requires or due to the intentional failure of the caregiver to meet essential needs. 

Self-Neglect occurs when a dependent adult is unable to care for him/herself or obtain needed care. The impairments and in some cases deterioration can occur to the point that the adult's life may be at risk. 

Common signs of this problem include:

  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration.
  • Untreated physical problems such as bed sores.
  • Unsanitary living conditions, dirt, bugs, soiled bedding, and clothes.
  • Being left un-bathed.
  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather.
  • Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water, faulty electrical wiring, and other fire hazards).

Individuals can report suspected abuse online at our secure site or by calling 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) toll free.