Every year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. And that's only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 14 cases go unreported. On June 15, Mississippi's Adult Protective Services (APS) program will join with national and international partners in celebration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Mississippi's statute is a ‘vulnerable persons' law, and does not include all elders, however, the majority of cases involve the elderly. Vulnerable persons are those who are impaired mentally or physically to care for or protect themselves from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Although the frequency of abuse among vulnerable adult populations is unknown, it happens, and across the country, reported incidents are on the rise. During State Fiscal Year 2012, the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services, Adult Protective Services (APS) received more than 4,000 calls of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults. Types of abuse include physical, mental, sexual, self-neglect, caregiver neglect and financial exploitation.
Specifically, Mississippi APS investigates reports of vulnerable persons 18 and older who reside in private home settings and who may be abused, neglected or exploited by family or caregivers or are victims of self-neglect. Other APS investigations include abuse in smaller unlicensed personal care homes where three or fewer persons reside; financial exploitation of care facility residents when perpetrated by a family member; or abuse by a caretaker or family member that occurred prior to a vulnerable person's admission to a care facility.
With the rise of aging baby boomers and longer life expectancies, maltreatment incidences toward elders and younger vulnerable adults will grow nationally and worldwide. The time is now to take a stand against abuse of vulnerable persons. How can you help take a stand in Mississippi?
8 Things You Can Do
1. Learn the signs of vulnerable persons abuse, neglect and exploitation.
2. Call or visit vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbors.
3. Offer assistance to a caregiver by filling in for a few hours or more.
4. Get involved by raising awareness.
5. Share information on vulnerable persons abuse with churches and community groups.
6. Support strengthening laws and services for the protection of vulnerable persons against abuse.
7. Speak up for vulnerable persons who may be unable to speak up for themselves.
8. Volunteer with nursing homes, local agencies and long-term care facilities.
It's everyone's duty to report.
To make a report, call the MDHS Centralized Intake Abuse Hotline at 1-800-222-8000. If an emergency exists, call 911 or local law enforcement.
To report abuse or neglect of residents in care facilities (i.e., nursing homes, personal care homes), call the Mississippi State Department of Health, Division of Health Facilities, Licensure and Certification at 1-800-227-7308 or 601-364-1110, or the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 1-800-852-8341 or 601-359-4220.
Take a stand against abuse of vulnerable persons.
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