Definitions of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

ABUSE: Willful infliction of physical pain, injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement or willful deprivation by a caretaker of services which are necessary to maintain mental or physical health.


  • Unusual and unexplained bruises, welts, fractures and burns in various stages of healing or in the shape of an object (rope, belt, restraints, electric burner)
  • Bed sores, weight loss or dry skin and lips
  • Clothing inappropriate for temperature and conditions
  • Inadequate shelter or medical care
  • Any willful confinement of the adult in a dangerous environment

CARETAKER NEGLECT: Failure of the caretaker to provide services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental anguish and to maintain mental health of the disabled adult.


  • Failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, and attention to personal and incidental needs
  • Failure to manage resources to meet needs
  • Failure to provide a safe living situation that is not hazardous to health and safety
  • Failure to provide appropriate supervision
  • Failure by caretaker to provide or arrange for medical needs

SELF NEGLECT: Disabled adult who lives alone or has no caretaker and is not able to provide necessary services to maintain his/her mental and physical health.


  • Forgetfulness in lighting or turning off stove or gas
  • Aimless wandering at night
  • Inability to cook, eat, bathe, toilet, dress or care for one’s self
  • Unusual thinness or dehydration
  • Causing small fires
  • Living in an unsafe dwelling or environment
  • Inappropriate use of medication
  • Inability to communicate

EXPLOITATION: Illegal or improper use of the disabled adult or his resources (money, property, home, vehicle, etc.)  for another’s profit or advantage.


  • Unexplained withdrawal of money from bank accounts
  • Use of deceit, treachery or coercion to obtain money or assets
  • Unusual interest by anyone in the disabled adult’s assets
  • Difference between assets and lifestyle
  • Unusually large payment for services
  • Mismanagement of person’s funds (failure to pay for essential services)
  • Inappropriate sexual activity

Individuals who have been mistreated may show one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Confusion
  • Hesitance to talk openly
  • Withdrawal
  • Change in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Suspicious or paranoid behavior
  • Radical change in behavior
  • Depression