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.
Denver Police Department
(720) 913-2000 or 911
Denver Adult Protective Services
Additional Support Services:
Denver District Attorney’s Office Fraud Hotline
Please be prepared to provide the following information:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Sexual abuse is sexual contact, activity, or touching without the adult’s consent or understanding.