The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) investigates allegations of dependent adult abuse in Iowa, and defines dependent adult abuse as follows
“Dependent adult” means a person eighteen years of age or older who is unable to protect the person’s own interests or unable to adequately perform or obtain services necessary to meet essential human needs, as a result of a physical or mental condition which requires assistance from another, or as defined by department rule.
“Caretaker” means a related or non-related person who has the responsibility for the protection, care, or custody of a dependent adult as a result of assuming the responsibility voluntarily, by contract, through employment, or by order of the court.
“Dependent adult abuse” means any of the following as a result of the willful or negligent acts or omissions of a caretaker:
- Physical injury to, or which is at variance with the history given of the injury, or unreasonable confinement, unreasonable punishment, or assault of a dependent adult.
- The commission of a sexual offense under Iowa Code 709 or section 726.2 with or against a dependent adult.
- Exploitation of a dependent adult which means taking unfair advantage of a dependent adult or the adult’s physical or financial resources for one’s own personal or pecuniary profit, without the informed consent of the dependent adult, including theft, by the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception, false representation, or false pretensions.
- The deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical or mental health care, or other care necessary to maintain a dependent adult’s life or health.
- The deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical, or mental health care, and other care necessary to maintain a dependent adult’s life or health as a result of the acts or omissions of the dependent adult.
- Sexual exploitation of a dependent adult who is a resident of a health care facility, as defined in section 135C.1, by a caretaker providing services to or employed by the health care facility, whether within the health care facility or at a location outside of the health care facility.
Those who are accused of dependent adult abuse by Iowa DHS are well advised to refrain from speaking to DHS on their own, and to seek an attorney at once. Just as with DHS child abuse accusations, dependent adult abuse accusations can result in criminal charges and other significant consequences.