JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The holidays is just around the corner, and the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) wants to ensure that individuals of all ages are in the holiday spirit with joy.

During the holidays, MDHS reported many older adults can be at risk for mental instability due to isolation.

According to a National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System report, more than one million complaints nationally of alleged maltreatment were received by Adult Protective Services (APS) programs. In Mississippi, there were 3,910 of these reports in 2021.

Examples of elder abuse includes financial abuse, physical abuse, neglect by caregivers and others, self-neglect, psychological/emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.

“We believe empowering older adults and their caregivers to make informed decisions is important,” said Kenyatta Blake, MDHS Division of Aging and Adult Services Director.

Mariam Hill, a Mississippi senior caregiver, said the holidays are an emotional time for seniors.

“Many tend to forget about the seniors in our communities, even though they go through things, too,” said Hill. “We have to help our senior mentally and be there for them not just through the holidays but everyday.”

MDHS encourages all family members to look for the potential signs of these instabilities during the holiday season.

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.

In most cases, reports can be made anonymously and in all cases, the reporter’s name is kept confidential.