Due to medical advances, adults are living longer than ever before. With those advancements, many elder Americans are enjoying the rewards of their hard work in retirement, pursuing hobbies, perhaps traveling, or spending quality time with family. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of older individuals also become the victims of elder abuse, often at the hands of those very people responsible for their care. It is important to recognize the signs of elder abuse and understand the protections of elder law in your state.
What is elder abuse in Florida?
The term “elder abuse” refers to any intentional, knowing, or negligent act that is conducted by a caregiver — or any other individual — that results in harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Elder abuse prevention laws exist in all 50 states, although the specific definitions of what constitutes abuse varies from state to state. Generally, the following behaviors are considered elder abuse when exhibited in the care of an elderly person:
- Neglect: failing to provide shelter, food, health care, or protection
- Physical abuse: causing pain or injury by physical or chemical means
- Sexual abuse: any non-consensual sexual contact of any kind
- Emotional abuse: causing distress, mental pain or anguish by verbal or nonverbal methods, such as intimidating or threatening the individual
- Exploitation: illegally misusing, taking, or concealing the property, funds, or assets of an elderly individual for someone else’s benefit
- Self-neglect: failing to perform self-care that threatens the individual’s health or safety
- Abandonment: desertion of an elderly individual by the person that has responsibility for their care or custody
Signs of Elder Abuse
Sings of elder abuse are not always obvious and one indication of a problem may not necessarily be attributable to abuse. Some of the warning signs to watch out for include:
- Physical signs such as broken bones, bruises, abrasions or pressure marks
- Sudden changes in behavior such as withdrawal from normal activities or change in alertness or engagement
- Unexplained changes in finances
- Unusual weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Bedsores or unattended medical needs
- Frequent arguments between the elderly individual and his/her caregiver
- Threatening or belittling behavior on behalf of a spouse or relative
Any dramatic change in demeanor or outward appearance may be a sign that something is amiss. So pay attention, ask questions, and seek legal counsel if you believe an elderly person may be the victim of abuse.
Prominent West Palm Beach Elder Law Attorneys Protect Your Best Interests
At Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll, our Florida estate planning attorneys understand the emotional, financial, and physical impact of elder abuse on an individual and their loved ones. We advocate for the victims of elder abuse, protecting their rights and acting in their best interests. If you believe a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, call our Palm Beach Gardens office today at 561-721-0600 or online to discuss your situation with a member of our team. We are your family’s lawyers and are by your side every step of the way.