Vulnerable Adult

The law defines ‘vulnerable adult’ as (RCW 74.34.020 RCW 74.34.021):

  • A person 60 years of age or older with functional, physical, or mental inability to care for self; or
  • An adult 18 years of age or older who:
    • Has a developmental disability; or
    • Has a guardian as per RCW 11.88 ; or
    • Lives in a nursing facility, boarding home, adult family home, or soldier’s home, residential habilitation center, or any facility licensed or required to be licensed by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS); or
    • Receives in-home services through a licensed health care agency, hospice, or an individual provider; or
    • Self-directs his/her own care 
      (see RCW 74.39.050).

DSHS can investigate only situations of abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation that involve an alleged victim who meets the definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ in the law. APS refers situations that involve alleged victims who do not fall within the definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ to appropriate resources.

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