According to Delaware law, a vulnerable adult is someone who is susceptible to abuse, neglect, coercion, mistreatment or manipulation. Isolation, sickness and mental and physical disability often are factors in the vulnerability of an adult. 

A variety of different types of abuse decrease the quality of life for the elderly. Observers should report instances of suspected abuse to state authorities such as Adult Protective Services. 

Types of abuse

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services lists no less than seven forms of possible abuse. In addition to physical abuse, vulnerable adults experience the following types of harm: 

  • Sexual abuse 
  • Neglect 
  • Self-neglect 
  • Abandonment 
  • Exploitation 
  • Emotional Abuse 

In some cases, people or institutions must report observed cases of neglect or abuse. Delaware law requires mandated reporting by financial institutions who suspect financial exploitation and by medical practitioners who have reasonable cause to believe some form of abuse is happening to a vulnerable adult. The Aging and Disability Resource Center accepts reports of abuse at 800-223-9074. 

Types of resources

Individuals and families that experience neglect or abuse may find it difficult to know where to turn in times of trouble. A Guide To Services for Older Delawareans and Persons With Disabilities published by the Division of Services for Aging and Adults With Physical Disabilities offers help. The publication lists contact information for accessibility and assistive technologies such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, screen enlargers and adaptive utensils. 

The publication also lists information on caregiving resources such as adult day care, home care and independent and assisted living facilities. The publication lists a variety of state and federal agencies to help those struggling with the challenges of disabilities or aging.