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APS investigation across four types of elder maltreatment

Shelly L. Jackson (Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)
Thomas L. Hafemeister (Associate Professor of Law, both at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 6 April 2012




Little empirical attention has been given to adult protective services (APS) investigations and the clients involved in those investigations. The purpose of this study was to explore aspects of the APS investigation of and response to reported elder maltreatment, the perceptions of elderly victims and their refusal of services, and to compare findings by the type of maltreatment involved (financial exploitation, physical abuse, neglect, and hybrid financial exploitation).


Data were collected from two sources over a two‐year period: in‐depth interviews with 71 APS caseworkers and 55 of the corresponding elderly victims who experienced substantiated elder maltreatment; and a statewide database that contained 2,142 substantiated cases of elder abuse.


Many aspects of the APS investigation and response differed by the type of maltreatment involved. While elderly victims were generally cooperative and satisfied with the APS intervention, 38 percent would have preferred APS not to investigate their case. Elderly clients responded differentially to offers of assistance, depending on the type of abuse involved, with victims of physical abuse most likely to refuse services.

Research limitations/implications

Future research will want to understand why elderly victims refuse services in order to develop appropriate interventions.

Practical implications

New approaches may be required for intervening in physical abuse cases, including collaborations between APS and domestic violence advocates and the inclusion of services for perpetrators.


This is the first large‐scale study to examine elderly victims' refusal of services, further enhanced by the analysis of refusal of services by type of abuse, thereby revealing a group of victims for which changes in intervention strategies may be necessary.



Jackson, S.L. and Hafemeister, T.L. (2012), "APS investigation across four types of elder maltreatment", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 82-92.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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