Adult Protective Services

Information about adult protective services.

Page updated on Oct 25, 2021 at 3:27 PM

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Adult Protective Services

What are Adult Protective Services? 

The Division of Aging and Adult Services is mandated to provide services for adults who are being abused, neglected, or exploited and who are:                                                                                                               

  • 18 years or older and physically or mentally disabled or
  • 60 years or older

Protective Services to adults consists of the receipt and prompt investigation of reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation.  It includes assessing and documenting adults' service needs, determining services needed, and developing a plan to obtain services.

Adults receiving Protective Services may live in their own homes, with relatives, in nursing homes, homes for adults, hospitals or group care facilities. 

Report Incidents of Abuse, Neglect of Exploitation of an Adult to: 
Adult Protective Services (APS) 
Intake Line: 703.746.5778 (Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.) 
Fax: 703.746.5975  
TDD: 703.836.1493 
After hours toll-free number: 1.888.832.3858

What do the Terms Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Mean?

Neglect is the failure of an adult to provide the goods or services necessary for his or her own safety and/or well-being − such as avoiding physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness− or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services.

Exploitation is the unlawful or improper act of a caretaker using an adult or his/her resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain.

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force that results in injury, pain or impairment. It includes pushing, hitting, slapping, pinching and other ways of physically harming a person. It can also mean placing an individual in incorrect positions, force feeding, restraining or giving medication without the person’s knowledge.

Emotional abuse occurs when a person is threatened, humiliated, intimidated or otherwise psychologically hurt. It includes the violation of an adult’s right to make decisions and the loss of his or her privacy.

Sexual abuse includes rape or other unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact, but it can also mean forced or coerced nudity, exhibitionism and other non-touching sexual situations, regardless of the age of the perpetrator.

Who Reports Suspected Incidents of Adult Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation?

Anyone can report - however, mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elderly or disabled adults immediately to the Division of Aging and Adult Services. Some situations must be immediately reported to both APS and local law enforcement: sexual abuse, death, serious bodily injury or disease believed to be caused by abuse or neglect, and any criminal activity involving abuse or neglect that places the adult in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.

Failure of a mandated reporter to make a report is punishable by a civil monetary penalty.  Adult Protective Services also refers matters as necessary to appropriate licensing, regulatory or legal authority for administrative action or criminal investigation.

Mandated reporters include: 

  • Physicians, including hospital residents and interns
  • Persons in the nursing profession
  • Persons employed by a public or private agency or facility and who work with adults
  • Person providing full-time or part-time care to adults for pay on a regular basis
  • Mental health professionals
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Conservators/ Guardians
  • Health Care Administrators
  • Licensed Health Professionals
  • Social Workers
  • Humane Enforcement Officers of Animal Cruelty

Protection for Those Reporting

Individuals reporting suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation are protected in two ways:

  • They are given immunity from civil and criminal liability if the report is made in good faith; and
  • The identity of the person reporting, as well as the information gathered, is confidential and NOT available to the public

The Goal of Protective Services

The goal of adult protective services (APS) is to protect a vulnerable adult’s life, health, and property without a loss of liberty and, when this is not possible, to provide care with the least disruption of life style, with full due process protection, and restoration of the person’s liberty in the shortest possible period of time. APS seeks to achieve simultaneously and in order of importance: freedom, safety, and minimal disruption of lifestyle and least-restrictive care.  APS provides protective services to reduce or eliminate the risk of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and exploitation.  APS is not a custodial agency.  APS does not have the authority to take custody of any adult for any reason.  

Every effort is made to keep individuals in the community, or in the least restrictive environment. In order to do that the APS workers collaborate with other community agencies that could provide needed services. They also assist individuals and families in obtaining:

  • Entitlement programs (Medicaid, Social Security, SSI, Food Stamps)
  • Medical care 
  • Home care, and if necessary admission to assisted living programs, adult homes, skilled 
  • Nursing facilities and mental health facilities
  • Legal interventions, always starting with the least restrictive. Legal interventions include assisting an individual to find a representative payee for Social Security benefits, review of Powers of Attorney and accountings, filing for Orders of Protection, Access Orders or the establishment of and/or the appointment of a guardian (i.e., one who is appointed by the court to make decisions about a person, including making health decisions) and/or conservator (i.e., one who is appointed by the court to administer the property and finances of another)
  • Other community services to meet the individual’s needs

APS Interventions 

  • Receiving reports of elder/vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation 
  • Investigating these reports 
  • Assessing victim's risk 
  • Assessing victim's capacity to understand his/her risk and ability to give informed consent 
  • Developing case plan 
  • Arranging for emergency shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and supportive services 
  • Service monitoring  
  • Evaluation 

APS is a part of the City of Alexandria Hoarding Task Force Team.  If you suspect someone is exhibiting a hoarding behavior in the City of Alexandria, please email the Hoarding Task Force.  The email address is