Elder Abuse

Washington State Legislature RCW 74.34.020 defines "elder abuse" as:

"a willful action or inaction that inflicts injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment on an adult 60 years or older"

Emotional abuse

Willful verbal or nonverbal action that threatens, humiliates, harasses, coerces, intimidates, isolates, unreasonably confines or punishes an older adult

Examples: Denying access to money or economic support; preventing victim from eating, sleeping, or leaving their residence; threatening or abusing the older adult's pet; threatening to injure or kill older adult's loved ones; verbal humiliation; treating the older adult like a child; falsely claiming the person is suffering from dementia

Guardian ad Litem

A trained investigator hired by the Court specifically for the purpose of investigating guardianship cases


A Court action designed to protect the rights of an incapacitated person and/or his or her assets

Illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources or trust funds of the older adult by any person or entity for any person's or entity's advantage other than for the older adult's profit or advantage

Examples: Forging signatures, handling older adult's finances without authorization or permission; coercing or deceiving older adult into signing documents

Other things to look for: Large withdrawal amounts; new and/or frequent ATM withdrawals

financial exploitation

Pattern of conduct or inaction by a person/entity with a duty of care that fails to provide the goods/services that maintain the physical and/or mental health of an older adult

Act or omission by a person/entity with a duty of care that demonstrates a serious disregard of consequences of such a magnitude as to constitute a clear and present danger to the older adult's health, welfare, or safety (RCW 9A.42.100)

Examples: Older adult appears malnourished or dehydrated; pressure ulcers or sores; overgrown nails; foul odors; missing or lack of assistive aids (i.e. hearing aids, glasses, dentures, equipment)


Physical abuse

Willful action of inflicting bodily injury or physical mistreatment

Examples: hitting; shoving; slapping; pinching; shaking; pushing; kicking; prodding; burning; inappropriately using drugs/medication or physical restraints; force feeding; choking;  strangulation; suffocation; any other form of physical punishment

Failure of an older adult (not living in a facility) to provide for him or herself the goods and services necessary for his or her physical or mental health

Examples: hoarding; unpaid bills; lack of clean, running water; vermin or insect infestation; appearance of malnourishment or dehydration; taking care of pet needs before self needs


sexual abuse

Any form of nonconsensual sexual conduct; verbal or nonverbal actions

Examples: non-consensual penetration or contact (i.e. touching or genitalia, removal of clothing); or unwelcome threats, derogatory comments, jokes, insults, slurs or innuendos related to gender 

For more examples, please click here

Vulnerable Adult

Any person:

(a) 60+ years old who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself

(b) Found incapacitated under RCW 11.99

(c) Who has a developmental disability as defined under RCW 71A.10.020

(d) Admitted to any facility

(e) Receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies licensed or required to be licensed under chapter 70.127 RCW

(f) Receiving services from an individual provider

(g) Who self-directs his or her own care and receives services from a personal aide under RCW 74.39

vulnerable adult protection order

A "VAPO" is a type of restraining order that protects vulnerable adults from abandonment, abuse, and/or neglect.

It can provide immediate protection, in addition to freezing bank accounts, restraining a person from contacting the vulnerable adult and can be enforced by the police.

You can file one at