June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. With ever increasing numbers of our Elders around the world, elder abuse is a very serious issue for us and our society. Unfortunately, our Elders can be particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
This problem is particularly important in Florida, where approximately five million people over the age of 60 reside. We should all be vigilant to look for signs of potential abuse such as cuts, wounds, burns, bruises, dehydration/malnutrition, lack of proper hygiene, etc. We should also look for behavioral signs such as fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, isolation, withdrawal, depression, etc.
Elder Abuse can take many forms. It can be physical and it can be verbal. It can also take the form of financial exploitation and neglect, etc. We all have a duty to report. Unfortunately, not everyone takes that seriously, and our societal failure to report these incidents can literally mean life or death to an elderly person. Nursing homes and other long term care facilities routinely fail to report these incidents. This makes it even more important for family members and advocates to stay informed with respect to the care being received by elderly people with whom they are involved.
Reporting can be accomplished to local law enforcement or to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Additionally, in our office, we routinely assist families with these issues. We routinely assist elders in their estate planning needs so that they are able to appoint advocates of their choosing to assist with financial and health concerns. We routinely assist families install protective measures such as guardianship if an elderly family member has diminished capacity. We have also successfully recovered funds which were wrongfully taken by an exploitative person from an elderly person. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office if you feel you or a loved one has been abused or exploited in any way.