Everybody has a role in protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
The task is just too large to leave it up exclusively to law enforcement, the judicial system and government agencies.
Consider this: In 2009, the state Department of Social and Health Services received 14,645 reports of alleged mistreatment of adults vulnerable because of age or disabilities.
The reported cases represented only 20 percent of the incidents authorities believe occurred last year.
In other words, officials are dealing with just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to physical, mental and financial abuse of vulnerable adults.
It’s up to all citizens of the state to keep a watchful eye on their family members, friends and neighbors who may not be able to fend for themselves.
There are resources available around the clock to help curb abuse, They include:
• Report suspected abuse, abandonments, financial exploitation and abuse of the elderly and disabled by calling the statewide hot line at 866-363-4276. Callers should provide as much detail as possible so that state social and health service officials can make an accurate assessment.
• Dial 911 in cases where a vulnerable adult faces an imminent threat of criminal activity.
• Learn more about adult abuse and prevention online at www.adsa.dshs.wa.gov/APS.