Skip to Content

Tennessee Vulnerable Adult Coalition

Mission Statement


To bring Tennessee public and private entities together to promote collaboration necessary to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults.



      • To strengthen relationships between public and private organizations
      • To promote awareness through community education
      • To share information about current needs, topics and projects related to adults at risk of abuse
      • To identify priority issues and address these within work groups

Who are vulnerable adults?


Older persons, or persons with disabilities, who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected, are unable

to protect themselves, and have no one to assist them.


What are the types of adult abuse?


Neglect occurs when the basic needs of a dependent adult are not met by a caregiver. Neglect may be unintentional, resulting from the caregiver's lack of ability to provide or arrange for the care or services the adult requires. Neglect also may be due to the intentional failure of the caregiver to meet the adult's needs.


Self-Neglect occurs when a dependent adult is unable to care for him/herself or to obtain needed care. The impairments result in significant danger to the adult and in some situations deterioration can occur to the point that the adult's life may be at risk.


Abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional) generally involves more extreme forms of harm to the adult, including the infliction of pain, injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or other cruel treatment.


Financial Exploitation occurs when a caregiver improperly uses funds intended for the care or use of the adult. These are funds paid to the adult or to the caregiver by a governmental agency.


What are the warning signs of adult abuse?

      • Some warning signs of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are:
      • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
      • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
      • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
      • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
      • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
      • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
      • Strained or tense relationships and frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

Related websites:


Tennessee Vulnerable Adult Coalition


Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Division of Mental Retardation Services


Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Securities Division


National Center on Elder Abuse


National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life


Adult Protective Services



If you suspect a vulnerable adult is a victim of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, please call:


KNOXVILLE: (865) 594-5685
CHATTANOOGA: (423) 634-6624
NASHVILLE: (615) 532-3492
MEMPHIS: (901) 320-7220


or if you are outside the above calling areas, please call toll free:


1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366)
Office hours 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. After-hours calls are returned the next business day.