When an elderly person can no longer take care of themselves, any number of people can step in and provide necessary assistance. Family members, medical professionals, at-home caregivers and nursing home employees are just a few examples. But with so many people involved, it is important to understand the potential for elder abuse and recognize its warning signs.
Elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment or harming of an older person. It can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, along with neglect and financial exploitation, and can be either a single event or occur repeatedly. It can even originate with the person or persons the elder is relying on to provide care. This can even include trusted family members. In any case, it’s wrong.
As with any form of abuse, elder abuse can be confusing, terrifying and even embarrassing to the victim. Aging adults might also fear retaliation and having no one to turn to. They also may fear getting their abuser in trouble – a particular problem when family members behave abusively.
The most important thing to do if you, or an elder loved one, is being abused, neglected or taken advantage of, is to tell someone. You do not have to rely on an abusive caregiver. While you may not want to report your suspicions, you help no one by remaining silent. In fact, depending on the state you live in, you may find yourself required to report signs or accusations of abuse to the appropriate authorities.
It may feel as if you are alone, but victims of elder abuse and their loved one do have options – even if feels as if you are dependent on the harmful situation. There are people, elder law attorneys and organizations waiting to help. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or neglect in a community setting, do not wait to report it. Florida has a dedicated elder abuse hotline that anyone can use to report abuse.
If abuse or neglect is occurring in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other long term care facility, or at the hands of the agent or guardian, do not wait to take action! These groups and individuals have a duty to provide a safe experience for the elderly. If you have questions on the care that should be provided, do not wait to contact our law firm.
There’s also the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Accordingly, if you hire someone for in-home care services then make sure they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed.
Elder adults have every right to be safe. There’s no excuse for caregivers to behave abusively. Do not put off the investigation that you need to complete. If you have questions on this or any elder law issue, do not wait to contact our law firm.