If you have reason to believe a vulnerable adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, immediately notify Adult Protective Services by calling 1-800-371-7897, or by contacting your local law enforcement.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Utah may be the worst state in the nation when it comes to care and abuse for its 65 or older population, according to a study published by WalletHub on Wednesday.

The study ranked Utah 51st in the nation after examining elder abuse, elder fraud, abuse prevention, long-term care, nursing home quality, and shelters across all 50 states and the District of Colombia.

WalletHub’s study used 16 metrics across three key dimensions:

  • PREVALENCE: Share of Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints, Estimated Elder Fraud Rate, Elder Fraud Loss Amount per Reported Frauds
  • RESOURCES: Total Expenditures on Elder-Abuse Prevention per Resident 65+, Total Expenditures on Legal-Assistance Development per Resident 65+, Total Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Funding per Resident 65+
  • PROTECTION: Financial Elderly-Abuse Laws, Eldercare Organizations and Services per Residents 65+, Presence of Elder-Abuse Forensic Centers, Presence of Elder Abuse Working Groups, Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per Residents 65+, Frequency of Assisted-Living Facilities Inspections, Quality of Nursing Homes, Presence of Laws Allowing Surveillance Cams in Nursing Homes, Presence of Elder Justice Task Forces, Presence of Elder-Abuse Shelters

Over the three key dimensions, Utah ranked a low 48th in prevalence, 29th in resources, and 40th in protection. According to WalletHub, Utah is one of the worst states for eldercare organizations and services, again ranking 48th.

The Utah Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), which hasn’t uploaded an annual report to its website since 2017, last reported that “abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults continue to rise and be both troubling and costly for Utah’s citizens.” In its 2017 report, The Long-Term Ombudsman Program reported receiving 1,795 complaints in 2017, up from just under 1,200 complaints received in 2013.

DAAS reported its Adult Protective Services Programs (APS) served over 5,600 more vulnerable adults in 2017 than it did in 2013. The most investigated types of allegations by APS in Utah for 2017 were financial exploitation, caretaker neglect, and emotional abuse.

Utah does have laws against abuse, abandonment, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Violations of the laws result in misdemeanor charges unless the abuse charges are upgraded to “aggravated abuse” of abandonment, neglect, and exploitation, in which the charges become felonies.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for the older population of Utah, however. DAAS offers programs to provide support for older individuals, including providing healthy meals and social engagement. In 2017, the Health and Nutrition Services with DAAS reported serving over 1.1 million home-delivered meals.

When it comes to protecting the older population, APS said it closed over 5,300 cases in 2017, nearly 2,300 more than in 2013.

According to the WalletHub study, the older population in the United States is expected to nearly double to about 85 million in 2050 from 2012, providing a rise in concern over the care in those over 65.