Dependent Adult Abuse

Click here to view a Dependant Adult Abuse Information Flyer

What Services Do We Provide?

The Dependent Adult Abuse program provides evaluations and assessments of alleged abused dependent adults. The program endeavors to provide services and makes referrals to assist abused dependent adults acquire safe living arrangements.

Who is Eligible to Receive Services?

Persons who meet the definition of "dependent adult", who have either been abused or neglected by a caretaker or have neglected themselves, are evaluated or assessed by DHS. 

"Dependent adult" means a person eighteen years of age or older who is unable to protect the person's own interests or unable to adequately perform or obtain services necessary to meet essential human needs, as a result of a physical or mental condition which requires assistance from another, or as defined by department rule. 

"Caretaker" means a related or non-related person who has the responsibility for the protection, care, or custody of a dependent adult as a result of assuming the responsibility voluntarily, by contract, through employment, or by order of the court. 

"Dependent adult abuse" means any of the following as a result of the willful or negligent acts or omissions of a caretaker:

  • Physical injury to, or which is at variance with the history given of the injury, or unreasonable confinement, unreasonable punishment, or assault of a dependent adult. 
  • The commission of a sexual offense under Iowa Code 709 or section 726.2 with or against a dependent adult. 
  • Exploitation of a dependent adult which means taking unfair advantage of a dependent adult or the adult's physical or financial resources for one's own personal or pecuniary profit, without the informed consent of the dependent adult, including theft, by the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception, false representation, or false pretensions. 
  • The deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical or mental health care, or other care necessary to maintain a dependent adult's life or health. 
  • The deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical, or mental health care, and other care necessary to maintain a dependent adult's life or health as a result of the acts or omissions of the dependent adult. 
  • Sexual exploitation of a dependent adult who is a resident of a health care facility, as defined in section 135C.1, by a caretaker providing services to or employed by the health care facility, whether within the health care facility or at a location outside of the health care facility.

How do I Apply for Services? 

Protective Service Units are available in all DHS County offices. You can call your local DHS office to make a referral or use the toll-free, hot line number, which is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-362-2178

Where Do I Go to Get More Information?

Other information:

Forms (see listings in left column): 

Contact Information:

Catherine Stack, Program Manager
Hoover Bldg., 1305 E. Walnut St.
Des Moines, IA 50319-0114


Dependent Adult Abuse Statistics:

Dependent Adult Abuse Historical Timeline:

Elder Abuse Subcommittee of Dept. of Elder Affairs begins meeting - first community-based group concerned with protecting abused dependent adults

Dependent Adult Abuse law written
Law passed
Law went into effect
Mandatory Reporting begins
Assessments begin: Self-denial of critical care no longer goes on registry - kept in local office


Assault added to physical abuse - injury no longer necessary


Criminal penalties added, legal interventions to remove dependent adult or perpetrator added



Dependent Adult Protective Advisory Council is appointed by Governor and begins meeting in August. State begins mandatory criminal and abuse background checks on prospective employees of health care programs


Assessment Task Force in DHS appropriations bill, Senate File 2410


Hosted first Regional Meeting of National Association of Adult Protective Service Administrators


2 Special DCI Agents established as liaisons between law enforcement & DHS


Elder Abuse Initiative service program begins.


Survey of 1998 forum participants on changes since 1998.


Abuse Education Review Panel for Mandatory Reporter Training curriculum approval begins.


Elder Justice Act introduced to Congress for first time [Would provide federal funds for elder abuse investigations]


Council initiates Systems Approach to Managing Iowans Safely


Dept of Elder Affairs receives VAWA grant to train law enforcement and Judicial system on dependent adult abuse


Local Forums to update and find out changes wanted by professions


New report finding added: minor, isolated and unlikely to reoccur, does not go on Central Abuse Registry


Department of Inspections and Appeals [DIA] establishes Dependent Adult Abuse Code for entities licensed and certified by DIA [135C Health Care Facilities, Adult Day Programs, Assisted Living Centers, Elder Group Homes]