How do I report suspected abuse or self-neglect of a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias?

People with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are especially vulnerable because the disease may prevent them from reporting the abuse or even recognizing it. They also may fall prey to criminals who take advantage of their cognitive impairment.

Adult Protective Services (APS), a division of the County's Aging & Independence Services, is the designated agency to accept reports of suspected abuse of elders and dependent adults who live in private homes, apartments, or hotels, or in facilities when the alleged abuser is not a resident or staff member. APS is responsible for investigating reported cases of elder and vulnerable adult abuse and for providing victims with treatment and protective services.

APS serves adults 65 and older and dependent adults 18 and older, who are harmed, or threatened with harm, to ensure their right to safety and dignity. APS investigates elder and dependent adult abuse, including cases of neglect and abandonment, as well as physical, sexual and financial abuse.

If a situation appears to be life threatening or a crime is in progress, call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement.If you believe elder or dependent abuse has occurred, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-510-2020, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Outside the County of San Diego call 1-800-339-4661.

If you are concerned that your loved one is wandering or may get lost please refer to the Safety & Wandering section of this website for resources to help keep your loved one safe.

Advocating for Residents in Long Term Care Facilities

The Long Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for residents in Long Term Care Facilities, such as nursing homes, as well as investigates abuse in other licensed facilities.

An Ombudsman listens to concerns, provides information and assistance when requested and will investigate and resolve complaints related to care or personal rights.

Contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman at the number at (858) 560-2507.

An Ombudsman Can Help with the Following:

  • Concerns about the quality of care provided to residents in long-term care facilities
  • Resident rights issues
  • Physical abuse and neglect
  • Dietary concerns
  • Financial issues (billing concerns, benefits, financial exploitation)
  • Concerns about physical or chemical restraints
  • Transfer and discharge issues
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Witnessing of Advance Directives in Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Supporting resident and family councils


Rights are protected by federal and state laws.

Mandated reporters, such as health and social service professionals, are able to report suspected elder or dependent adult abuse online through the following URL:


Assisted Living Facility (ALF) Unit – Facility Elder Abuse

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has a team of prosecutors, investigators and paralegals who investigate and prosecute crimes committed against residents of various types of facilities. They also aim to raise public awareness of these deplorable crimes against the especially vulnerable and educate the community on reporting and preventing elder abuse.  To report suspected abuse in facilities, call the San Diego District Attorney Facility Elder Abuse reporting line: 619-531-3342.

Benefits to reporting abuse

  • The elder or dependent adult will be given options to keep him/her safe from harm
  • The APS worker can link the client, family to needed community resources
  • Unaware family members, friends can be alerted to step in to help
  • The APS worker can find ways to help the caregiver handle stress
  • In some cases, the abuse perpetrator can be prosecuted, lessening the harm to others
  • The reporter feels relief that a professional is assessing the situation

Avoid becoming a victim of financial abuse, older adults need to hang up, toss out, shut the door and ignore!

Don’t Get Hooked

As a result of the severity of functional and cognitive impairment and reliance on surrogate decision-making, individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are at increased risk for financial exploitation or money mismanagement.  Aging and Independence Services partnered with the District Attorney’s Office and developed a Don’t Get Hooked Scam Prevention Toolkit and hosted various community forums throughout the County of San Diego. The Don’t Get Hooked Toolkit was translated into Spanish and included culturally and linguistically appropriate terms and situations. 

For more information in Spanish,
click on the icon below:

For more information in English,
click on the icon below:





Types of Abuse

There are many types of abuse that can occur. The following list outlines some of the more common types of abuse.

Physical: Direct beatings, lack of medical care or overmedication, sexual exploitation

Abandonment: Desertion or willful forsaking by anyone having responsibility for care

Isolation: Preventing a dependent adult from receiving mail, telephone calls, visitors

Financial: Theft, misuse of funds or property, extortion, duress, fraud

Neglect: Denial of food, clothing, shelter, health care. Or unable to provide basic needs

Self-neglect: Malnutrition, being unkempt, unmet medical needs, unpaid bills

Mental suffering: Verbal assaults, threats, fear



Signs of trouble

The following items are possible warning signs that abuse might be occurring to an older or disabled adult. If you observe some or all of these occurring with an older or disabled adult you know, consider alerting Adult Protective Services.

Injury that is inconsistent with the explanation for its cause

The elder or dependent adult has recently become confused or disoriented

The caregiver shows anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward the person

Personal belongings, papers, credit cards are missing

Hesitation from the elder to talk openly

The caregiver has a history of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence

Lack of necessities, such as food, water, utilities, medications and medical care

Another person's name added to the client's bank account or important documents, or frequent checks made out to CASH