Learn the signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation to help protect the vulnerable citizens of Montana

What is Adult Protective Services?

Adult Protective Services (APS) is an agency given authority by the Montana legislature to investigate reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of individuals over 60 years of age or developmentally disabled and over 18 years of age. In instances of imminent danger to the individual, APS may remove the individual from danger and arrange for a safe, temporary living situation.

Where do I report incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation?

Montana Law requires you to report incidents of abuse, neglect, and exploitation to the Department of Public Health and Human Services or its local affiliate, Adult Protective Services, or to the local County Attorney where the person lives or where the act took place. If the person resides in a long term care facility, the incident should be reported to the long-term care ombudsman program. If the person is in imminent danger, the incident should be reported immediately to local law enforcement or "911".

What information should I provide in my report?

Montana Law requires that a report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation be made in writing or orally, by telephone or in person. A person who receives an oral report shall prepare it in writing as soon as possible.

Each report must contain:

  • The name and address, if available, of the person who you think may have been abused, neglected or exploited and the person, if any, responsible for that person’s care.
  • To the extent known, the person’s age and the nature and extent of the abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including any evidence of previous abuse.
  • Your name and phone number. Your name will be kept confidential.
What should I report as abuse?

Montana law defines abuse as follows: The infliction of physical or mental injury or the deprivation of food,shelter, clothing or services necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of an older person or a person with a developmental disability without lawful authority.

Possible indicators of abuse are:

  • Cuts, lacerations, or puncture wounds
  • Bruises, welts, or discoloration of the skin
  • Any injury which has not been properly cared for (injuries are sometimes hidden on areas of the bodynormally covered by clothing)
  • Absence of hair and/or hemorrhaging below the scalp
  • Dehydration and /or malnourishedwithout illness-related cause
  • Loss of weight
  • Soiled clothing or bed

Possible indicators of abuse by the caregiver are:

  • The individual may not be allowed to speak for him or herself, or see others, without the presence of the caregiver (suspected abuser)
  • Attitudes of indifference or anger toward the dependent person or the obvious absence of assistance
  • Caregiver blames the individual (e.g. accusing that incontinence is a deliberate act)
  • Aggressive behavior (threats, insults, harassment) by the caregiver toward the elder
  • Caregiver has problems with alcohol and/or drugs
  • Inappropriate displays of affection by the caregiver
  • Flirtations, coyness, etc. as possible indicators of inappropriate sexual relationships
  • Social isolation or restriction of activities of the older adult by caregiver
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Unwillingness or reluctance by the caregiver to cooperate with service providers in planning for the individual’s care
  • Inappropriate defensiveness by the caregiver

What should I report as neglect?

Montana law defines neglect as follows: The failure of a person who has assumed legal responsibility or a contracted obligation to care for an older person or a person with a developmental disability or who has voluntarily assumed responsibility for the person’s care, including an employee of a public or private residential institution, facility, home or agency, to provide food, shelter, clothing, of services necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of the older person or the person with a developmental disability.

Possible indicators of neglect by caregivers are:

  • Dirt, fecal/urine smell or other health and safety hazards in the individual's living environment
  • Rashes, sores, or lice on individual
  • Individual is malnourished or dehydrated
  • Individual has an untreated medical condition

What is financial exploitation?

Financial exploitation is, generally, the unreasonable use of a person’s money or property by another who has gained the trust of that person for personal gain. Any employee of a residential facility should not take gifts of money or possessions from a resident. Most facilities prohibit employees from accepting any money or possessions as gifts.

Can I get into trouble with my employer for reporting an incident of abuse, neglect or exploitation?

Any person required by Montana law to report incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation is immune from civil or criminal liability as a result of the report unless the report is false in any material respect or the reporter acted in bad faith or with malicious intent.

Any person who purposely or knowingly fails to make a required report of abuse, neglect or exploitation may, however, have civil or criminal liability.

In long term care facilities, reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation should be reported to the local Long Term Care Ombudsman.

Statewide Elder Help Line 1-800-551-3191
This number will automatically connect you to your local Area Agency on Aging office.

Note: This is not a 24-hour number. After regular business hours emergencies should be called to “911”
Adult Protective Services Numbers
Bozeman522-2267, 522-2262
Great Falls268-7963, 268-7960 268-7961, 268-7962
Hamilton363-1633, 363-1543
Helena444-5987, 444-1348, 444-1312
Kalispell755-6491, 755-6493, 751-5968 751-5975
Miles City234-1867, 234-0225
Missoula329-1315, 329-1311, 329-1308
Red Lodge446-4692
Wolf Point653-1078
State Bureau Chief444-9810
State Program Manager444-5707