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In short, adult protective services exists to protect vulnerable adults. In most cases, a family law attorney can help with conservatorships are guardianships if you have concerns about whether or not a family member is getting the care they deserve. However, there may be some cases where you know someone needs help, but you’re not really close enough to the situation to help. For example, if you have an elderly neighbor who you feel is unable to appropriately care for themselves, APS may be able to investigate and determine whether or not they can help ensure your neighbor gets the help they need. Alternatively, there may be situations where you know a vulnerable adult is getting help, but you’ve got concerns about the kind of help they’re getting. For instance, if you have a loved one who’s in an assisted living facility and you suspect that residents are experiencing abuse, APS may be able to investigate. 

What Is APS? 

APS generally refers to adult protective services, which is similar to child protective services. Adults who cannot take care of themselves due to mental illness or physical impairment, may need additional help. Since children don’t have the same rights that adults do, it’s much easier to ensure that a child’s needs are getting met. However, forcing an adult family member with a debilitating mental illness to seek help, for instance, is another matter entirely. Generally, if an adult person doesn’t want help, you can’t force them to get help. This is where APS may step in. If an adult is failing to attend to their mental and/or physical health, adult protection services may. 

Elder Abuse 

Adult protection services may be able to help in cases of elder abuse, or conservatorship abuse. For example, if an elderly person is already in a conservatorship, but the conservator is abusing their control over the elderly person, adult protection services may be able to intervene. However, a qualified family law attorney may also be able to help. Adult protection services can also investigate cases of elder abuse. Even if your family member resides at an assisted care facility, adult protection services may be able to help if you have concerns about the care your family member is receiving. Neglect in an assisted living facility may also be an issue that adult protection service can help with. The aging population is uniquely vulnerable to financial abuse as well, as other forms of abuse. If you have a loved one who is receiving assistance with managing their finances (money), and you notice that they’re frequently out of money, or consistently falling behind on bills, that may be a sign that their finances are not being properly attended to or managed.  

Does APS Only Help Elderly People? 

When we think of APS, we commonly think of elderly people who are being abused, neglected, taken advantage of, or are unable to take care of themselves. However, there are other adults who aren’t elderly, but struggle to care for themselves mentally or physically. For example, a person who is suffering from hoarding disorder may be relatively young, but living in such conditions could be dangerous. Many people with genuine hording disorders live in unsanitary conditions that have a negative impact on their physical health. This is especially true for those who hoard animals. Since hoarding disorder is a mental illness, it’s not as simple as just clearing out the house and starting over. Involving adult protection services can help ensure that the person suffering from a mental health condition gets the help they need. This may also apply to other adults with limited capacity such as those with down syndrome or other medical diagnoses that prevent them from caring for themselves, recognizing abuse or neglect, or reporting issues to others that can help. 

What If My Parents Refuse Assisted Living? 

Many people struggle to give up their independance. This can be a common reason for elderly parents to refuse to move to assisted living. If you have aging parents, and they are unable to care for themselves, adult protective services can help ensure that they get the help they need. Alternatively, meeting with a qualified family law attorney can help you determine whether a guardianship or conservatorship could be in your family member’s best interest. 

Getting Legal Help 

If you have a loved one that needs help, meeting with a family law attorney can help you determine whether or not a conservatorship can help your family member get the help they need. At CoilLaw our attorneys are dedicated to helping you protect your family and advocate for the best interests of your loved ones. If you’re considering a conservatorship, contact CoilLaw today to get started with an initial consultation. 


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