As we age, many of us become more vulnerable and often require assistance with daily living. Unfortunately, sometimes the people we entrust with the care of our elderly loved ones betray that trust.
Elder abuse is a reality for far too many older adults. If you suspect that your elderly relative is being abused, it’s essential to take action to protect them and get them the help they need.
What Are The Signs of Elder Abuse?
The first step in addressing elder abuse is to recognize the signs. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and sexual abuse.
Some signs of elder abuse, such as unexplained bruises, cuts, or injuries, may be apparent. In contrast, others may be more subtle, such as sudden changes in behavior or withdrawal from social activities.
How Do I Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Florida?
If you suspect that your elderly relative is being abused, it’s crucial to take action immediately. The first step is to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.
In Florida, the Department of Elder Affairs provides a hotline for reporting suspected elder abuse cases. They are responsible for investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). They are staffed by trained professionals who can help you make a report of suspected abuse or neglect.
When you call the hotline, you will be asked to provide as much information as possible about the suspected abuse. This may include the name and address of the elderly person, the name and contact information of the suspected abuser, and any other relevant details about the situation.
Once you have reported the abuse, the authorities will investigate to determine the nature and extent of the abuse and take steps to protect the elderly person from further harm. Depending on the circumstances, this may involve removing the elderly person from their home and placing them in a safe environment, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Suppose the suspected abuse occurs in a nursing home. In that case, the investigation may include interviews with the resident, the nursing home staff, and other witnesses and a review of medical records and other relevant documents.
If the investigation finds abuse or neglect has occurred, the Department of Elder Affairs may take several steps to protect the resident and ensure that the nursing home is held accountable for its actions. This may include fines, sanctions, or even the revocation of the nursing home’s operating license.
It’s important to note that reporting suspected elder abuse is not just the right thing to do – it’s also required by law. Under Florida law, anyone who suspects that an elderly person is being abused, neglected, or exploited is required to report it to the authorities. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
What Else Should I Do To Protect My Elderly Relative?
In addition to reporting suspected elder abuse, there are other steps you can take to protect your elderly relative from harm. These may include:
- Visiting your elderly relative regularly. Check on their well-being and monitor their living situation.
- Hiring a caregiver or home health aide. Always hire a caregiver or aide from a reputable agency that conducts background checks and provides proper training and supervision.
- Helping your elderly relative manage their finances. Assist them with monitoring their bank accounts for signs of financial exploitation.
- Encouraging your elderly relative to seek medical attention. Seeking care if they have been injured or are experiencing unexplained health problems is critical.
If you suspect your elderly relative is being abused, acting quickly to protect them and get them the help they need is essential. By reporting the abuse to the appropriate authorities and taking steps to protect your loved one, you can help prevent further harm and ensure they receive the care and support they deserve.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s” Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022,