Adult Protective Services

How to Report ELDER/ADULT-AT-RISK Abuse
If the abuse or neglect is occurring within Portage County, Wisconsin, and is not occurring in a State-licensed facility, call the Portage County Health and Human Services Department at (715) 345-5350 and report the incident to the INTAKE Department.

If the abuse or neglect is occurring in a Wisconsin State-licensed facility, call the Ombudsman for the Elderly and Disabled

at 800-815-0015.
- or -
refer to the Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services' internet listing of Wisconsin County Elder Abuse Agencies at: http://www.dhfs.state.wi.us/aging/elderabuse/agencies.htm

What is ELDER/ADULT-AT-RISK Abuse?
Elder abuse is defined in Wisconsin law, Chapter 46.90. When a person age 60 or older is subjected to any of these types of abuse or neglect, it is elder abuse.

Any individual who is 18 years old and considered to be an Adult-At-Risk is “any adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability for his or her needs who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation.”

1. Physical abuse is the willful infliction of physical pain, injury or unreasonable confinement. It includes, but is not limited to, beating, choking or burning, inappropriate medication or tying or locking a person up. It also includes sexual abuse, which occurs when a person has been forced, tricked, threatened or otherwise coerced into sexual contact against one's will.

2. Material abuse, sometimes called financial abuse or exploitation, is the misuse of an elder's money or property. It includes deception, diverting income, mismanagement of funds and taking money or possessions against a person's will, knowledge, consent or understanding.

3. Neglect occurs when a caregiver's failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical or dental care results in significant danger to the physical or mental health of an older person in his/her care.

4. Self-neglect means a significant danger to an elder person's physical or mental health because the elder person is unable or fails to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical or dental care.

What happens when abuse/neglect is reported?
Upon receiving a report of abuse, material abuse, neglect or self-neglect, an Adult Protective Services worker will conduct an investigation of the reported abuse. The initial goal of an investigation is to verify the safety of the person and to inform them of their rights under the state elder/adult-at-risk abuse/neglect laws. The scope of the investigation may include the following:

1. A visit to the elder/adult-at-risk person's residence.

2. Observation of the elder/adult-at-risk person.

3. An interview with the elder/adult-at-risk person. To the extent possible, this interview shall be private.

4. An interview with other individuals who are aware of the elder/adult-at-risk person and the situation. (The nature of an individual's relationship to the elder/adult-at-risk person is considered before contacting them.)

5. A review of treatment and health care records.

Once the initial goal is met, the Adult Protective Services worker will work with the individual(s) to identify additional resources that may be of assistance.

Important things to know about reporting.

Given the sensitive nature of abuse situations and the impact a report has on families and individuals, the Adult Protective Services worker attempts to establish communication in the least intrusive manner possible.

The reporter of elder/adult-at-risk abuse/neglect can request to remain anonymous and Wisconsin law, Chapter 46.90, protects their identity.

The person who is the subject of the abuse/neglect report may refuse the investigation or services. If the person is competent and refuses the investigation, the investigation ceases. (Competence refers to an individual's capacity to make informed decisions and does not refer to the quality of the decisions being made.)

A commitment to protecting the elder/at-risk person's right of self-determination is the guiding principal during the investigation process.