Adult Protective Services works to protect our aging population from abuse and neglect
(Jackson, Miss.) – As the COVID-19 pandemic has created new concerns for families of our aging population and their safety, it is more important than ever to remember if you see something say something. More than 250 thousand of our most vulnerable citizens are victims of abuse and neglect each year.
According to a report by the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, 1,315,992 reports of alleged maltreatment are received by Adult Protective Services (APS) programs nationally each year. In Mississippi, there were 3,299 reports investigated by Adult Protective Services in 2019. That was a 31 percent increase from the 2,525 reports investigated in 2018.
During the first six months of 2020, APS received 1,906 reports that have been screened for investigation, for an average of 325 investigations per month.
Adult Protective Services (APS), under the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), Division of Aging & Adult Services, investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable persons residing in private home settings, as well as any follow-up services provided by Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) to those vulnerable persons as a result of the investigations.
APS programs promote the safety, independence, and quality-of-life for vulnerable adults who are, or are in danger of, being abused, neglected by self or others, or financially exploited, and who are unable to protect themselves. APS is a social service program authorized by law in every state to receive and investigate reports of elder or vulnerable adult maltreatment and to intervene to protect the victims to the extent possible.
“It is our job to continue to advocate for the rights of aging and vulnerable Mississippians, also while empowering older adults and their caregivers to make informed decisions.,” said Kenyada Blake, Director of the MDHS Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Types of abuse that should be reported include:
Physical Abuse: Beating, slapping, kicking, rough handling, or other abuse causing welts, cuts, burns, abrasions, sprains, bruises, dislocations, fractures or broken bones.
Neglect by Caregiver/Others: Lack of supervision, failure to give medicine, food or personal care, not attending to bed sores.
Self-Neglect: Indicators include the inability to provide self-care (i.e. cook, eat, bathe), over-medication/under-medication, untreated medical or mental conditions, aimless wandering, causing fires.
Psychological/Emotional Abuse: Indicators include verbal threats or insults, cursing, belittling, isolation or withholding companionship.
Sexual Abuse: Indicators include Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), pregnancy, bruises, bleeding, pain or itching in genital or anal areas, difficulty in walking or sitting.
Financial Abuse/Exploitation: Indicators include mismanaging money or stealing property, savings, credit cards, unusual activity in bank accounts, misuse of assets by a representative payee.
Anyone with knowledge of abuse or neglect of an aging or vulnerable person is encouraged to contact APS by phone at the Vulnerable Person Abuse Hotline at 844-437-6282 or online at https://fw2.harmonyis.net/MSLiveIntake/. Individuals should always call the nearest law enforcement agency or 911 if the situation is a life-threatening emergency.
Reports received are electronically transmitted to an Adult Protective Services regional supervisor for the county where the alleged victim resides. The APS supervisor reviews the report and makes the screening decision for further handling. If the report meets criteria for an APS investigation, the supervisor assigns the report to an APS worker. In most cases reports can be made anonymously and in all cases the reporter’s name is kept confidential.
For more information on the Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Adult Protective Service, visit https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/adults-seniors/.