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Every year, thousands of older adults are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, while others struggle to adequately care for themselves. Perpetrators of abuse and neglect can be loved ones, individuals in a position of trust as well as strangers. In Colorado, more than 20,000 reports of adult abuse and neglect are received by Adult Protection Services each year, and Denver receives nearly 2,000 of them. Victims include older adults, many of them over the age of 70, and adults 18 years of age or older who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Sadly, many incidents of abuse and neglect go unreported and it is believed that only one of every five incidents is brought to the attention of an investigative authority.

It is the role of the Denver Human Services’ Adult Protective Services (APS) team to investigate reports of abuse and neglect of both at-risk elders and other at-risk adults who have a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability. APS collaborates with the Denver Police Department, the Denver City Attorney’s Office and Denver’s District Attorney’s Office to investigate these reports.

Anyone can file a report of abuse or neglect, however, certain professionals – known as mandatory reporters – are required by state law to report to local law enforcement any suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, caretaker neglect and exploitation of at-risk elders 70 years and older, and of at-risk adults 18 and older with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). Please visit the Colorado Department of Human Services website to understand who qualifies as a mandatory reporter and what the requirements are for reporting.  

In Denver, these reporters must contact the Denver Police Department at 720-913-2000 within 24 hours of observing or discovering the abuse or neglect. However, if the concerns reported pertain solely to self-neglect, mandatory reporters can connect with the APS Hotline at 720-944-4DHS (4347), 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

All other community members who are not identified as mandatory reporters are urged to connect with the APS Hotline at 720-944-4DHS (4347) to report concerns of abuse, neglect, exploitation or self-neglect. These reports also should be made within 24 hours of observation or discovery.

Whom do I call to report an incident or situation in Denver? 

Mandatory Reporters:
Denver Police Department
(720) 913-2000 or 911

All Others:
Denver Adult Protective Services
(720) 944-2994

Additional Support Services:
Denver District Attorney’s Office Fraud Hotline
(720) 913-9179

What information do I need in order to file a report?

Please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Name, address and the approximate age of the at-risk adult.  If the adult does not live in Denver County, you will be referred to the appropriate county of residence. 
  • A description of the alleged mistreatment and the situation. What did you observe?
  • What is the nature and extent of the injury (if applicable)?
  • Who is the alleged perpetrator?  Please have the name and address if available.
  • Any other information that you feel is relevant

What happens after I report?

  1. APS will review the report and determine the appropriate response.
  2. The report will be shared with the Denver Police Department.
  3. APS will take appropriate action, which may include an investigation.
  4. APS may request a joint investigation with law enforcement or another agency.
  5. APS may offer protective services to the consenting at-risk adult.

How do I know if I am a mandatory reporter?

For information on mandatory reporting requirements in Colorado and who qualifies as a mandatory reporter, please visit the Colorado Department of Human Services website at:

What is Mistreatment?

In Colorado, mistreatment refers to an act (or omission of an act) that threatens the health, safety or welfare of an at-risk adult, or that exposes the adult to a situation or condition that poses an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury.  Mistreatment includes self-neglect, caregiver neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation. 

Signs of mistreatment include:

  • Multiple bruises that are not consistent with a fall
  • Black eyes, slap marks, kick marks, grasp marks and fingertip bruising
  • Burns
  • Fractures non-consistent with falls
  • Stench of urine or feces
  • Signs of malnutrition or over=feeding
  • Administration of inappropriate drugs
  • Adult is fearful for life or not wanting to get abuser in trouble

What is Caretaker Neglect?

Caretaker neglect occurs when the at-risk elder’s caretaker fails to make sure the adult has adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care or supervision, OR the caretaker does not provide these services in a timely manner or with the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would use. 

Signs of neglect include:

  • Lack of basic care
  • Abandonment or isolation
  • Not providing proper food or fluids
  • Failure to provide proper health care
  • Lack of personal care
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Being left to sit in urine/feces
  • Absence of mobility aids resulting in restricted movement
  • Absence of necessary medication or medical equipment
  • Improperly fitting or damaged dentures

Who is a Caretaker?

A person who is paid or unpaid and has assumed responsibility for the care of an at-risk elder or has identified himself or herself as the elder’s caretaker. A caretaker can be a family member, a home health provider, a facility staff person or a neighbor who has agreed to provide recurring assistance to help the elder meet his or her basic needs. A person who does occasional shopping or cleaning for an at-risk adult elder does not mean he or she has assumed responsibility for that at-risk elder.

What is Self-Neglect?

Self-neglect is the most commonly reported concern regarding at-risk adults.  Self-neglect occurs when an at-risk adult cannot or does not care for himself or herself. The reasons could range from lifestyle choices, the onset of sensory or medical impairments, or a partial or total loss of decision-making capacity as determined by their medical provider.

What is Exploitation?

Exploitation means taking an at-risk adult’s money or other assets against their will or without their knowledge or consent. In other words, it is stealing from the adult. It also means deceiving, harassing, intimidating, or exerting undue influence to get the adult to do something against their will. 

Signs of exploitation include:

  • Stolen cash or missing pension book
  • Cashed benefit/pension payment that was not given to beneficiary
  • Telling someone something cost more than it did
  • Person who is designated as appointee or Power of Attorney withholds money from the at-risk person
  • Withholding money so a person is unable to afford necessities
  • Persuading or forcing the at-risk adult to transfer money, bank accounts, property, assets and financial affairs to another person
  • Not allowing the at-risk elder to be admitted to residential care because it may impact an inheritance

What is Physical Abuse?

Physical abuse occurs when someone causes bodily injury to an at-risk adult, such as physical pain or bruising, or when unreasonable confinement or restraint is imposed on the at-risk adult.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is sexual contact, activity, or touching without the adult’s consent or understanding.  


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