Elderly & Disabled Adult Abuse

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Elderly & Disabled Adult Abuse

This page contains information regarding the different classifications of elder and disabled adult abuse, the contact information to report abuse or neglect, and how to file and submit a complaint against a long-term care facility or a long-term care facility licensed staff member.


Types of Abuse & Neglect

The National Center on Elder Abuse has identified seven types of elder/disabled adult abuse.

  • Physical abuse is the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.
  • Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact, of any kind, with an elderly person or disabled adult.
  • Emotional abuse is the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or non-verbal acts.
  • Financial/material exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an elder/disabled adult's funds, property, or assets.
  • Neglect is the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person's obligations or duties to an elderly person or disabled adult.
  • Physical neglect can be defined as the desertion of an elderly person/disabled adult, by an individual who has physical custody of the elder/disabled adult, or by a person who has assumed responsibility for providing care to the elder/disabled adult.
  • Self-neglect can be defined as the decisions or behaviors of an elderly person or disabled adult, which threaten that person's health or safety.

Reporting Abuse or Neglect

The Tennessee Department of Health is required by state law and federal regulations to maintain a registry of persons who have abused, neglected, or misappropriated personal property of a vulnerable person who is under eighteen (18) years of age, or who, by reason of advanced age or other physical or mental condition is vulnerable to abuse, neglect or misappropriation of property and who was, at the time of such determination, in the care of a state agency, an entity which is licensed or regulated by a state agency, or an entity under the provisions of a contract between that entity and a state agency.

Allegations of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of personal property against individuals are investigated thoroughly. Due process is afforded to all accused persons before placement is made.

For more information or to report abuse, call toll-free (800) 778-4504 or contact:

Tennessee Department of Health Elderly or Vulnerable Abuse Registry
227 French Landing Suite 501
Heritage Place MetroCenter
Nashville, TN  37243


Filing a Complaint

When a problem arises with a specific licensed and/or certified facility, complaints should be filed with the Department of Health Division of Health Care Facilities.

To file a complaint, call toll-free (877) 287-0010 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Adult Protective Services

Adult protective services are provided by the Senior and Long-Term Care Division of the Tennessee Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to reduce or remove the risk of physical or mental harm as a result of abuse neglect or exploitation. These services are provided to persons over the age of 60; physically or mentally disabled adults; and adults with developmental disabilities who are at risk of physical or mental injury, neglect, sexual abuse, or exploitation. Adult protective services are emergency intervention activities which may include: investigating complaints, coordinating family and community support resources, strengthening current living situations, developing and protecting personal financial resources, and facilitating legal intervention.

To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older person call (888) APS-TENN or (888) 277-8366.
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