Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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How Can You Protect Your Loved Ones from Elder Abuse?

How Can You Protect Your Loved Ones from Elder Abuse?

Unfortunately we all know that abuse of the elderly is becoming an issue that we cannot ignore. There are over half a million cases of elder abuse that are reported each year and many more that have gone unreported. With age, dependency increases and the burden on family members as well as care givers grows. This dependency seems to leave the elderly vulnerable to different types of abuse. It is our goal to help you become aware of this abuse and its warning signs. Sadly abusers come in all shapes and sizes from “friends” to Family members and even healthcare professionals. These warning signs below can be of help when it comes to protecting your loved ones.

Elder abuse comes in seven primary types. It is important to become familiar with all seven of these types of abuse as well as the warning signs that are associated with them. We want you to become familiar with these signs and if you think elder abuse is happening to someone you know or love report it to the appropriate person.

Neglect: Often caregivers fail to fulfill their duties to the elder, which can be looked upon as neglect. Everyday things such as providing food, water, bathing, and providing clean clothes are the obligations of the caregivers. Some signs of neglect can be poor hygiene, untreated bed sores, poor living conditions, malnutrition or dehydration, dirty living conditions as well as lack of safety.

Financial Exploitation: Improper use of the elder’s money, property or any other assets is considered financial exploitation. This exploitation includes forging checks, deceiving the victim into signing a document, stealing money and mismanagement of their financial affairs. Some signs to look for are sudden changes in banking practices, additional people added to bank accounts, unexplained withdrawals and sudden changes in their will, or assets being transferred.

Sexual Abuse: Any sexual act that is done without the consent of all people involved is sexual abuse, even in situations where the person involved is unable to give consent. Some signs to look for are unwanted touching and photographing that can be considered acts of sexual abuse. Other signs to look for are stained or bloody underclothing, unexplained genital bleeding and bruising around the breasts or genitals.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Using verbal or non-verbal acts in order to cause any sort of anxiety, stress or emotional pain is considered to be Emotional or Psychological Abuse. This type of abuse includes things such as intimidation, insults and humiliation. Communication in a condescending form is a red light for this type of abuse and some signs to look for are anxiety, odd behavior, as well as stress and agitation.

Physical Abuse: Any use of force that results in some sort of injury is considered physical abuse. Some forms of this type of abuse are use of restraints, using sleeping medications and tranquilizers, even force feeding. Obvious signs are bruising, broken or fractured bones, overdosing on medication, and refusal to allow visitations.

Can elder abuse be prevented? Yes it can. It is hard work to care for an elderly person. It is a priority to ensure that all caregivers have the proper resources and support that is needed. There needs to be an available avenue that caregivers can use to vent their frustrations as well as get relief.

If you ever suspect that an elderly person is being abused, you can contact the Department of Elder Affairs for the State of Florida by calling 1-800-96ABUSE or (1-800-962-2873). The Florida Department of Elder Affairs is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of elders in Florida. They work with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Adult Protective Services and the Aging Network to protect disabled adults or elderly persons from further occurrences of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Some of the services these organizations may provide are protective supervision, placement and in-home and community based services.

You can also make a report by fax. A detailed written report is requested with your name and contact telephone to 1-800-914-0004.

Amy B. Van Fossen

Amy B. Van Fossen

(Formerly Attorney Amy B. Jackson)