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Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Program

The Baltimore County Police Department is committed to protecting and supporting its elder and vulnerable adult citizens through the investigation of allegations of abuse, neglect, self-neglect and exploitation.

As life expectancies increase, a growing percentage of the total population in Baltimore County is 60 years of age or older. There are also many younger disabled adults (with a physical or mental disability or both) who are vulnerable and live in our communities due to the closing of most state hospitals and institutions. The Department also supports elderly vulnerable citizens and their families and caregivers through education, senior crime prevention, information on available resources, and referral to local and state agencies serving this population.

What is a Vulnerable Adult?

A vulnerable adult is any person age 18 or over who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for their daily needs.

What is Abuse?

Vulnerable adult abuse is defined as the sustaining of any physical pain or injury by a vulnerable adult as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act by a family or household member, a caregiver or other person who has permanent or temporary care or responsibility for the supervision of the vulnerable adult.

What is Neglect?

Vulnerable adult neglect is defined as the intentional failure (by a caregiver, family or household member) to provide necessary assistance and resources for the physical needs of a vulnerable adult. This includes food, clothing, toileting, essential medical treatment, shelter and supervision. Self-neglect is a situation in which vulnerable adults decline physically or mentally due to an inability or unwillingness to provide basic care for themselves.

What is Exploitation?

Exploitation means any action which involves the misuse of a vulnerable adult’s funds, property, or person. This is mostly thought of as financial exploitation and encompasses a broad range of conduct. Financial exploitation may involve unusual banking activity, suspicious signatures on checks, changes to legal documents, missing assets or funds, excessive fees for rent or caregiver services, and person-to-person, mail or telephone fraud scams. Exploitation covers situations where an elder is coerced into giving consent or is unable to give consent due to a state of mental or physical incapacity.

Is Vulnerable Adult Abuse a Crime?

Yes. In Maryland, it is a crime to abuse, neglect or exploit a vulnerable adult.

What Can You Do if You Suspect Abuse?

Any concerned person who has reason to believe that an alleged vulnerable adult has been subjected to abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation may contact the Baltimore County Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services, at 410-853-3000. The report can be oral or written and should be made as soon as there is reasonable cause to believe that an adult is in danger of harm or in an emergency situation. The names of persons who make reports are required by law to be kept confidential. Any person who makes or participates in making a report of suspected abuse, or who participates in an investigation or judicial proceeding, is immune from civil liability. Concerned citizens may also contact the Police Department to initiate an investigation of the suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Information, Referral and Assistance?

Are there any local or state agencies that provide information, referral and assistance to vulnerable adults and senior citizens in Baltimore County?

Yes. The following agencies may be contacted for assistance:

  • Baltimore County Department of Social Services                                                 
    Adult Protective Services
    Phone: 410-853-3000
  • Baltimore County Department of Aging                                                                
    Maryland Access Point (MAP)
    Phone: 410-887-2594
  • Baltimore County Department of Health
    Services for Seniors
    Phone: 410-887-2754
  • AARP
    Fraud Watch Network
    Fraud Watch Hotline 1-877-908-3360
Revised April 29, 2020         


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