Adult Protective Services

APS Mission

To protect and support vulnerable adults through collaboration.

What We Do

Adult Protective Services (APS) staff investigate reports of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation. APS staff assess the need for protective services and provide services to reduce the identified risk to the adult.

APS may investigate abuse/neglect/exploitation of an adult in any living arrangement including nursing homes, group homes, their own homes, homes of relatives or friends, etc. The exception is residents of state operated institutions for individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

For additional information, download our brochure.

Why We Do It

Adult Protection Act

The General Assembly passed the Tennessee Protective Services for Elderly Persons Act in 1974. This was later repealed and amended to include all adults with the passage in 1978 of the Tennessee Adult Protection Act. To read Title 71, Chapter 6, Part 1, click here.

Neglect occurs when the basic needs of a dependent adult are not met by a caregiver. Neglect may be unintentional, resulting from the caregiver's lack of ability to provide or arrange for the care or services the adult requires. Neglect also may be due to the intentional failure of the caregiver to meet the adult's needs.

Abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional) generally involves more extreme forms of harm to the adult, including the infliction of pain, injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or other cruel treatment.

Financial Exploitation occurs when a caregiver improperly uses funds intended for the care or use of the adult. These are funds paid to the adult or to the caregiver by a governmental agency.

Self-Neglect occurs when a dependent adult is unable to care for him/herself or to obtain needed care. The impairments result in significant danger to the adult and in some situations, deterioration can occur to the point that the adult's life may be at risk.

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruising or broken bones
  • Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Signs of being retrained, such as a rope marks on wrists

Emotional Abuse

  • Isolation of the vulnerable adult and/or thecaregiver refuses to allow visits with thevulnerable adult alone
  • Caregiver doesn’t allow vulnerable adults tomake or receive phone calls
  • Threatening, belittling, or controllingbehavior by the caregiver
  • Withdrawn, anxious or fearful

Sexual Abuse

  • Frequent genital or urinary tract irritationand infections
  • Bruising to genitals, upper torso or upperthighs
  • Vulnerable adult indicates discomfortwith caregiver while bathing, dressing ortoileting
  • Little to no privacy provided for bathing ordressing


  • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition,dehydration
  • Untreated physical problems, such as bedsores
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Unsuitable clothing for the weather
  • Unsafe living conditions - no heat orrunning water, faulty electrical wiring,other fire hazards; presence of dirt, bugs irsoiled bedding/clothing
  • Failure to seek needed medical treatmentor refused to allow caregivers to provideneeded care

Financial Exploitation/Abuse

  • Sudden changes in the vulnerable adult’sfinancial condition
  • Financial activity the vulnerable adultcouldn’t have done, such as an ATMwithdrawal when the account holder isbedridden
  • No food in the home, disconnectedutilities, etc. and the home is notmaintained