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Adult Protective Services

Thousands of vulnerable adult Oklahomans suffer abuse, neglect, and exploitation by family members and other caregivers.  Adult Protective Services (APS) assists adults who need help taking care of themselves, and who may be experiencing maltreatment. If you or someone you know is concerned about the well-being of an adult friend, neighbor or relative, APS is there to listen and respond.

When a report is made, the following can be expected:

  1. The report is reviewed and assigned to an APS Specialist or referred to another organization.
  2. If the report is assigned to an APS Specialist, an attempt is made to contact the client within a week.
  3. The APS Specialist may contact the reporter, if needed. If you have more information, call the APS Specialist or 1-800-522-3511.
  4. Services are offered after the situation is assessed. The APS specialists help connect vulnerable adults to the services they need to stay safely in their homes and communities whenever possible. APS has 60 days to complete the process.


There is no guarantee you or someone you love will never experience maltreatment. You can lessen the likelihood of maltreatment, however.

  • Maintain social contacts and cultivate friendships;
  • Take care of your health through regular medical and dental checkups, and be honest with your medical advisers about any problems you experience;
  • Stay active, both physically and mentally;
  • Learn about the changes that are part of the normal aging process;
  • Be thoroughly familiar with your financial status, and have a plan in place for someone you trust to handle your finances should you become unable to do so, making sure your income and assets will be available to meet your needs;
  • If a relative, especially one with a troubled life, wants to live with you, think it through and make sure you and your assets will be safe before agreeing; and
  • If you need help, ask for it from someone you trust to help - a family member, doctor, lawyer, clergy, other helping professionals or a friend or neighbor

Remember that life’s circumstances can change in an instant, and be prepared to change with them.

Anyone can experience maltreatment; however, here are some ways to lessen the likelihood of maltreatment.

  • Be aware of vulnerable adults with whom you have contact - relatives, friends, neighbors, and church members.

  • Maintain frequent contact with friends, relatives, or neighbors to decrease isolation.

  • Encourage older relatives and friends to make plans for financial management and care should they become unable to take care of themselves.

  • Be careful about taking on too much when you try to help.

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of possible adult maltreatment, including self neglect, and report suspicious situations to the police or Adult Protective Services as soon as you’re aware of them.

Oklahoma law defines a vulnerable adult as an individual who is an incapacitated person or who, because of a physical or mental disability, including persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, incapacity, or other disability, is substantially impaired in the ability to provide adequately for the care or custody of himself or herself, or is unable to manage his or her property and financial affairs effectively, or to meet essential requirements for mental or physical health or safety, or to protect himself or herself from abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, or exploitation without assistance from others. 

Vulnerable adults retain all the same rights and responsibilities as other adults until a court determines otherwise. Parents do not have the legal right to make decisions for their vulnerable adult children unless a court order or other legal document gives them that right. The same is true for adult children who wish to make decisions for their vulnerable parents.

A caretaker is a person who has the responsibility for the care of a vulnerable adult or the financial management of the resources of the vulnerable adult as a result of a family relationship, assumed the responsibility for the care of the vulnerable adult voluntarily by contract, or as a result of the ties of friendship, or been appointed a guardian, limited guardian, or conservator pursuant to the Oklahoma Guardianship Act.

ABUSE is causing or allowing infliction of physical pain, injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, unreasonable restraint or confinement, mental anguish or personal degradation OR deprivation of nutrition, clothing, shelter, health care or other care or services without which serious physical or mental injury is likely to occur by a caretaker or other person responsible for providing services to a vulnerable adult.

VERBAL ABUSE is the use of words, sounds, gestures, actions, behaviors or other communication by a caretaker or other person providing services to a vulnerable adult that are likely to cause a reasonable person to experience humiliation, intimidation, fear, shame or degradation.

NEGLECT is failure to provide protection, adequate shelter, nutrition, health care or clothing, or causing or permitting harm or risk of harm through the action, inaction or lack of supervision by a caretaker providing direct services.

FINANCIAL NEGLECT means repeated instances by a caretaker or other person who has assumed the role of financial management of failure to use the resources available to restore or maintain the health and physical well-being of a vulnerable adult, including but not limited to:

  1. Squandering or negligently mismanaging the money, property, or accounts of a vulnerable adult;
  2. Refusing to pay for necessities or utilities in a timely manner; or
  3. Providing substandard care to a vulnerable adult despite the availability of adequate financial resources.

SELF NEGLECT is the action or inaction of a vulnerable adult that causes the adult to fail to meet essential requirements for his or her own physical and mental health and safety due to the adult’s lack of awareness or lack of ability.

EXPLOITATION is the unjust or improper use of the person or resources of a vulnerable adult for the profit or advantage of another person through the use of undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation or false pretense.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION is a caretaker causing, allowing, or encouraging a vulnerable adult to engage in prostitution or lewd, obscene, or pornographic photographing, filming or depiction of the vulnerable adult.

SEXUAL ABUSE is (A) oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of a vulnerable adult by, or through the union with, the sexual organ of a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult, or the anal or vaginal penetration of a vulnerable adult with any other object by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult;

(B) for the purpose of sexual gratification, the touching, feeling, or observation of the body or private parts of a vulnerable adult by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult; or

(C) indecent exposure by a caretaker or other person providing services to the vulnerable adult.

PERSONAL DEGRADATION is a willful act by a caretaker intended to shame, degrade, humiliate, or otherwise harm the personal dignity of a vulnerable adult, or where the caretaker knew or reasonably should have known the act would cause shame, degradation, humiliation, or harm to the personal dignity of a reasonable person. Personal degradation includes the taking, transmitting, or display of an electronic image of a vulnerable adult by a caretaker, where the caretakers action constitute a willful act intended to shame, degrade, humiliate, or otherwise harm the personal dignity of the dependent adult, or where the caretaker knew or reasonably should have known the act would cause shame, degradation, humiliation, or harm to the personal dignity of a reasonable person.

  • Injury that has not been cared for properly
  • Injury that is inconsistent with the explanation for its cause;
  • Pain when touched;
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause;
  • Poor skin color;
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks;
  • Inappropriate administration of medication;
  • Soiled clothing or bed;
  • Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities;
  • Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items; or
  • Forced isolation.

  • Fear;
  • Anxiety, agitation;
  • Anger;
  • Isolation, withdrawal;
  • Depression;
  • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence;
  • Contradictory statements, implausible stories;
  • Hesitation to talk openly; or
  • Confusion or disorientation.

  • Prevents vulnerable adult from speaking to or seeing visitors;
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward vulnerable adult;
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence;
  • Lack of affection toward vulnerable adult;
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship;
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents;
  • Speaks of vulnerable adult as a burden; or
  • Believes vulnerable adult could do more self care than actually capable of.

  • Accumulations, hoarding;
  • Inadequate shelter;
  • Drug paraphernalia;
  • Inadequate or spoiled food;
  • Offensive odors;
  • Multiple prescription bottles from multiple doctors or pharmacies;
  • Inadequate sanitation for pets; or
  • Vermin infestation.

  • Frequent expensive gifts from vulnerable adult to caregiver;
  • Vulnerable adult's personal belongings, papers, credit cards missing;
  • Numerous unpaid bills;
  • A recent will when vulnerable adult seems incapable of writing will;
  • Signing over deeds to property;
  • Caregiver's name added to bank account;
  • Vulnerable adult unaware of monthly income;
  • Vulnerable adult signs on loan;
  • Frequent checks made out to "cash;"
  • Unusual activity in bank account;
  • Irregularities on tax return;
  • Vulnerable adult unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney;
  • Caregiver's refusal to spend money on vulnerable adult; or
  • Signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble vulnerable adult's.

Reporting Information

If you suspect that a vulnerable adult is the victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation, please submit an online report at

You may also call the Abuse and Neglect  hotline at:

If you feel that the vulnerable adult needs an emergency response for immediate health and safety risks, please call 911 immediately. 

Last Modified on Sep 26, 2023
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