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North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services


Elder Abuse


The North Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman does not investigate allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. However, the Ombudsman Program will refer any necessary information pertaining to an allegation of abuse or neglect to the local county Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services Unit.

"North Carolina has been providing protective services to adults through its one hundred county Departments of Social Services since 1975. This was one of the nationís first initiatives to recognize the needs of older and disabled adults who had been abused, neglected, and exploited and to develop a protective services program to address their needs. North Carolinaís Adult Protective Services statute provides for services to all adults who are incapacitated by a physical or mental disability. It authorizes the county departments of social services (DSS) to evaluate a disabled adultís need for protective services and to provide or arrange for services when necessary.

The mistreatment of elderly and disabled adults is not a new problem, however there has been an increased demand for Adult Protective Services (APS) in North Carolina since the mid 1980ís. Several factors have contributed to this need for service. The nationwide growth in the elderly population combined with the popularity of North Carolina as a retirement state resulted in a 7% increase in the stateís elderly population between 1989 and 1993. By 1996, over 13% of North Carolinaís population age 65 or older and over half of them live in rural areas of the state. While most elderly individuals do not need Adult Protective Services, the small percentage who do has increased as the stateís elderly population has grown. Another factor which has contributed to the need for this service is the number of individuals who are living longer, experiencing a serious decline in mental or physical functioning, and have not anticipated nor planned for their care under such circumstances. These individuals are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect or exploitation." (excerpt from Adult Protective Services Registry Report)

The following definitions were taken from North Carolina General Statute, Chapter 108A, Article 6, the NC Adult Protective Services Statute:

"Abuse" means the willful infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation by a caretaker of services, which are necessary to maintain mental and physical health.

"Exploitation" means the illegal or improper use of a disabled adult or his resources for another's profit or advantage.

"Neglect" refers to a disabled adult who is either living alone and not able to provide for himself the services which are necessary to maintain his mental or physical health or is not receiving services from his caretaker. A person is not receiving services from his caretaker if, among other things and not by way of limitation, he is a resident of one of the State-owned hospitals for the mentally ill, centers for the mentally retarded or North Carolina Special Care Center he is, in the opinion of the professional staff of that hospital or center, mentally incompetent to give his consent to medical treatment, he has no legal guardian appointed pursuant to Chapter 35A, or guardian as defined in G.S. 122C-3(15), and he needs medical treatment.<

"Protective services" shall mean services provided by the State or other government or private organizations or individuals, which are necessary to protect the disabled adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. They shall consist of evaluation of the need for service and mobilization of essential services on behalf of the disabled adult. (1973, c.1378, s. 1; 1975, c. 797; 1979, c. 1044, ss. 1-4; 1981, c. 275, s. 1; 1985, c. 589, s. 34; 1987, c. 550, s. 24; 1989, c. 770, s. 29; 1991, c. 258, s. 2.)


Last updated January 24, 2011


LTC Ombudsman Program


If you suspect abuse, neglect and/or exploitation,
call your
Local County Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services Unit IMMEDIATELY!

Do not wait for someone else to call!

For more in-depth information, contact

N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services
Adult Protective Services Section
2101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-2101
(919) 733-3818

National Center for Elder Abuse
1201 15th Street, N.W., Suite 350
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 898-2586 / FAX: (202) 898-2583