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Elder abuse thought to be widely under-reported in Mississippi

The estimated yearly numbers for elder abuse are startling, and with the generation of baby boomers growing older, unfortunately the instances of abuse are almost certain to increase.

Mississippi Adult Protective Services received over 4,000 reports of abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults in fiscal year 2012, and that number is likely shy of the real total, given that so many cases of abuse go unreported. Every year and throughout the United States, about 2.1 million elders are abused, exploited or neglected, but it is estimated that 14 out of 15 cases are never brought to the attention of authorities. So what can Mississippi residents do to protect their vulnerable elders?

Visiting and talking with your older loved ones is one way of monitoring them. Sometimes, though, our vulnerable loved ones are unable to clearly communicate their troubles, so it is important to know the signs of abuse and neglect. Does an elder have suspicious injuries? If so, trusting your instincts may be the best step toward figuring out exactly what is going on.

Elders may not be willing to talk about abuse and neglect because someone is threatening them, or maybe dementia makes the whole situation confusing for the victim. In any case, offenders should be held responsible for abusing vulnerable adults.

If there is reason to suspect that a care provider is abusing a vulnerable adult, then the victim's family may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. There are criminal penalties for abuse, but victims or their families also deserve full justice in civil court.

Source: wjtv.com, "Take A Stand in Mississippi: Stop Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Persons," June 12, 2013

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