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Abuse and Neglect of Older and At-Risk Adults

Every year, thousands of older and at-risk adults are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, while others struggle to care for themselves.


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What You Need To Know

With the support of community members like you, we help adults age 18 and older stay safe and well by investigating reports of abuse and neglect. We collaborate with the Denver Police Department, Denver City Attorney’s Office, and Denver’s District Attorney’s Office to evaluate and intervene when needed to protect adults in our community.

If you believe someone in Denver is a victim of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call us at 720-944-4DHS (4347).

If you have any concerns about the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older adult or an adult with an intellectual or developmental disability, please call 720-944-4DHS (4347). The hotline is available 24/7. Every call is handled with the utmost care and consideration, and the caller’s information is kept confidential. Your call could make a real difference in someone’s life.    

After you make a report, a team of skilled social caseworkers evaluates the information. If your report indicates potential abuse, neglect, or exploitation, a caseworker will collaborate with our partner agencies to investigate and offer help (if the at-risk adult consents to services). 

Adults who are considered "at-risk" can include:

  • Adults who are being mistreated or exploited
  • Adults with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD), acquired brain injury, Alzheimer's, dementia, or neurological or cognitive defect
  • Adults with a major mental illness
  • Frail or elderly persons who are unable to perform typical activities of daily living

In Colorado, mistreatment includes neglect and acts that threaten the health, safety or welfare of an at-risk adult or expose the adult to imminent risk of death or serious injury. Mistreatment includes self-neglect, caregiver neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation. 

Signs of abuse may include:

  • Multiple bruises that are not consistent with a fall
  • Black eyes, slap marks, kick marks, grasp marks, or fingertip bruising
  • Fractures that are not consistent with a fall
  • Burns
  • Evidence of malnutrition or over-feeding
  • Administration of inappropriate drugs
  • Fear for safety or concern about getting an abuser in trouble

Neglect occurs when an adult’s caretaker fails to provide adequate, timely food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision. It is also considered neglect if the caretaker fails to provide these services with the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would use. Neglect can include:

  • Abandonment or isolation
  • Not providing proper food and/or fluids
  • Failure to provide proper health care
  • Lack of personal care
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Being left to sit in urine/feces
  • Absence of mobility aids causing restrictive movement
  • Absence of necessary medication or medical equipment
  • Improper fitting or damaged dentures    

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 his or her will.

Examples of financial exploitation may include:

  • Stealing cash or credit cards
  • Cashing benefits or pension payments without giving them to the beneficiary
  • Telling someone something cost more than it did
  • Abusing position as appointee or Power of Attorney to withhold money from the at-risk person
  • Withholding money so a person is unable to afford necessities
  • Persuading or forcing the at-risk adult to transfer money, bank accounts, property, assets, or financial affairs to another person
  • Not allowing the at-risk adult to be admitted to residential care because it may impact an inheritance

Self-neglect is the most commonly reported concern regarding at-risk adults. Self-neglect occurs when at-risk adults can’t or don’t care for themselves. The reasons can 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. 

Colorado legally requires many service professionals to report suspected elder abuse of persons 70 or older. These mandated professionals are also required to report mistreatment of at-risk adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In Denver, these reporters must call the Denver Police Department at 720-912-2000 within 24 hours of observing or discovering the abuse or neglect.

See more information on mandatory reporting requirements in Colorado and who qualifies as a mandatory reporter.


You May Also Find Helpful



Resource Guide for Elder and At-Risk Adult Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation [PDF]


Other supports and services we offer older adults and veterans


Other supports and services for those with disabilities


Call Colorado Crisis Services (1-844-493-8255) to talk about mental health, substance abuse, or emotional help for yourself or someone you know


Get Started »

  • If you believe someone is a victim of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Denver, call us at 720-944-4DHS (4347), available 24/7. 


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Main Office, Richard T. Castro Human Services Center
1200 Federal Blvd.
Denver, CO 80204


Customer Service

720-944-4DHS (4347)

If you need Colorado Relay/TTY services in Denver, please call 711. If you need Spanish-language relay services, please call 800-337-3242.


City Assistance

Call 3-1-1

Outside Denver: 720-913-1311
Emergencies: 911
TTY Service: 720-913-8479





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