Adults at Risk

Ozaukee County Adult Protective Services staff are responsible for investigating reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect and financial exploitation of Elders-At-Risk and Adults-at-Risk in our community. Adults sometimes choose to live in, or behave in ways that others would consider unhealthy, unsafe, or even unsanitary. Adult Protective Services focuses on an individual’s right to make their own decisions so long as they are of sound mind. Individuals who are competent are offered resources and encouraged to accept services which will result in a healthier and safer day-to-day life. Individuals who are assessed to be so cognitively impaired, as guided by statutes, that they are a substantial risk to themselves or others receive intervention and protection.

Who is eligible for Adult Protective Services 

An Elder Adult-at-Risk is any person in Ozaukee County, age 60 or older, who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, neglect by caregiver, self-neglect, financial exploitation, sexual abuse, treatment without consent, or unreasonable confinement or restraint.

An Adult-at-Risk is any adult in Ozaukee County aged 18 through 59 who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to care for his/her needs and who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation.

How do I know if it’s Abuse or Neglect? 

Sadly, Elders and Adults at Risk in Ozaukee County encounter various types of abuse, some more obvious than others. Ozaukee County staff investigate hundreds of referrals every year. All types of abuse are harmful and have serious impacts.

• Self-neglect -Failure of the individual at risk to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, medical, or dental care for him or her self. Self-neglect may be related to a change in a person’s medical needs, physical abilities, cognitive functioning, or even emotional well-being.

• Neglect –A caregiver's failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, medical or dental care. A caregiver is an involved individual who has responsibility for the care of another. This may be a family member, an agency worker, paid or not paid.

• Financial exploitation - Use of an Elder or Adult-at-Risk's money or property without their knowledge, understanding and/or consent. In the majority of situations, the person using the funds is a trusted individual in the person’s life, such as a family member or friend. Financial exploitation that is allowed to continue limits or even eliminates a person’s options for current or future care needs.

• Emotional abuse – Language or behavior that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to be intimidating, humiliating, threatening, frightening, or otherwise harassing. Emotional abuse can be difficult to identify but is harmful to a person’s well-being.

• Physical abuse - The willful infliction of physical pain, injury, or unreasonable confinement. Physical abuse impacts an individual both physically and emotionally. As with other types of abuse, physical abuse will likely contribute to a decline in an individual’s health.

• Sexual abuse – Forcing someone to watch or be a part of unwanted or nonconsensual sexual contact. Sexual contact requires informed consent from both parties, regardless of relationship status including marriage.

• Treatment without consent - Forcing medication or treatment on an individual without informed consent from the individual. An individual has the right to know what medications they are taking, and may refuse medications unless there is a court order.

Should I make a report to APS?

If you are experiencing abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, Ozaukee County Adult Protective Services is here to provide options and support. If you suspect someone is experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation, Speak Up. Individuals in these situations are often reluctant to tell anyone because they are afraid or ashamed. Others may not have the ability to Speak Up for him/herself. All of our county residents deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Anyone can voluntarily make a report. No one can be held civilly or criminally liable or found guilty of unprofessional conduct for reporting in good faith. Certain professionals may be Mandated to Report in certain situations, as detailed in Chapters 46.90 and 55.043 of the Wisconsin State Statutes (collapse)

If you:

A: *Are An employee of any entity that is licensed, certified, or approved by, or registered with DHFS OR

*A health care provider as defined in s.155.01(7) OR

*A social worker, professional counselor, or marriage and family

    therapist certified under ch. 457


 B: Have seen the Elder or Adult at Risk in the course of your

 professional duties

And any of the following are true:

 C. *The Individual at risk requested that you make a report OR

    *There is reasonable cause to believe that an Individual at Risk is at risk is of imminent risk of serious bodily harm, death, sexual assault, or significant property loss and is unable to make an informed judgment about whether to report the risk OR

*There other Individuals at Risk who are at risk of serious bodily harm, death, sexual assault, or significant property loss by the suspected perpetrator.

If criteria are met for a Mandated Report, you must make a report to the County’s Elder/Adult at Risk agency or to the State’s oversight agency unless, in your professional judgment, you believe it would not be in the individual’s best interest. Your reasons must be documented. Inquire to your employer for additional guidance.

If criteria is not met, reporting is voluntary.

How do I make a report to APS?

Adult Protective Services referrals for Ozaukee County residents can be made by calling 262-284-8200 during business hours, or through Law Enforcement outside of business hours. In case of an immediate, life-threatening emergency dial 911 for an immediate response.

The source of a Referral is confidential except with direct permission from the caller, or by order of the Court.

Complaints regarding Health Care or Residential Care providers in Wisconsin involving quality of care or quality of life, including, but not limited to abuse, neglect, lack of staffing, unsafe conditions, poor care, mistreatment, transfers, discharges, and caregiver misconduct should be reported to and investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Quality Assurance.

What will APS do after they receive my report?

Referrals are reviewed to determine the need or ability of the Department to follow up. Social workers may make home visits in the community to assess a person’s cognitive and physical functioning. They provide education, make referrals and work to connect individuals with supports in an effort to improve safety and well-being. Services are voluntary, except in limited situations as guided by statute.

Can APS update me on their response?

In order to honor a client’s right to privacy and confidentiality, we cannot provide information regarding our response or our involvement with an individual.

Prevent and Protect--Tips to Protect yourself

Take Care of yourself-Maintain regular appointments with your medical providers.

Stay Connected-Build a network of family, friends, neighbors and groups to avoid isolation. Participate in community activities, connect with individuals in your church and the local senior center.

Access supportive services-The Aging and Disability Resource Center can help connect you to services that will assist you to remain as independent as possible.

Monitor your Finances-Review Bank and Credit Card statements regularly. Consider making statements available to a trusted individual to review these as well. Consult with someone you trust before making a large purchase or investment. Don’t be pressured or intimidated into immediate decisions.

Get your Legal Documents in Order-Complete your Power of Attorney for Health Care and Finances documents. Be sure to choose agents that you trust, and who will support your wishes.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th. Are YOU the Missing Piece to Stop Elder Abuse? (add graphic) link to World Elder Abuse

Special Thanks to members of our Ozaukee County Elder/Adult at Risk Interdisciplinary Team which provides staff and system support.

Contact Us:

   Phone: 262-284-8200

   Fax: 262-284-8103

Other Resources:

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-833-586-0107.

Elder Rights Project through Legal Action of Wisconsin-Providing statewide civil legal aid to elder abuse victims:

Disability Rights Wisconsin

Elder Abuse Agencies by Wisconsin County:

Adults at Risk Agencies by Wisconsin County:

Find an APS Agency across the United States:

Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center-

Complaints regarding Health or Residential Care Providers:

Complaints and concerns of residents or recipients of Long Term Care: