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Who are At-Risk Adults?

The purpose of the Adult Protective Services program is to protect adults who cannot protect themselves. These adults are known as “at-risk adults.” They are considered to be at risk of mistreatment or self-neglect because:

  • They are unable to protect themselves; and/or
  • They are unable to perform or arrange for services that will help them protect their health and safety; and/or
  • They lack sufficient understanding or lack capacity to make or communicate decisions that will keep them safe and healthy.

In Colorado, an “at-risk adult” is defined as “an individual eighteen years of age or older who is susceptible to mistreatment or self-neglect because the individual is unable to perform or obtain services necessary for the individual’s health, safety, or welfare or lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning the individual’s person or affairs.”  Adults who might meet the definition of an at-risk adult include adults in unsafe situations who have developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries, major mental illnesses, or neurological or cognitive deficits. Older adults who are frail and unable to perform typical activities of daily living and who are in unsafe situations may also meet the definition of an at-risk adult.