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Refusing To Tolerate Elder Abuse

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Families across the globe sometimes have one family member who takes financial advantage of an elderly relative. Sometimes, our beloved elders suffer various forms of abuse at the hands of supposed caregivers, or perhaps at the hands of strangers. This could include physical abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, forced isolation or imprisonment, financial abuse, and more. Regardless of who harms our elders, society as a whole condemns such behavior, and our legal institutions are equipped to provide greater protections for victims, and serious consequences for perpetrators. Whether it occurs in a care facility or a private home, addressing the issues of elder abuse must be a top priority.

Alarming Facts

Sadly, we have no clear statistics on the number of elders suffering in abusive situations because so much of it goes unreported. Even so, it is estimated that anywhere between two and ten percent of elders across this country experience neglect and/or abuse. We know that up to two million individuals over the age of 65 have been exploited, harmed, or neglected by a trusted caregiver or family member. Floridians are no exception to the issues: studies show that the rate of confirmed cases of elder abuse is rising year by year.

Recognizing the Problem

Many loving friends and families of elderly Americans fail to see that a problem exists. It is important to be aware of the signs as you check in on loved ones who rely on others for care:

  • Noticeable changes in appearance, financial circumstances, or patterns of sleep;
  • Bruising, burns, or other signs of injury;
  • Evidence of unwanted confinement;
  • Indications of malnutrition or dehydration;
  • A reluctance to speak freely, particularly in the presence of certain people;
  • Unusual depression, anxiety, or paranoia.

In Florida, anyone who suspects elder abuse is required by law to report it.

Investigating Deaths

The issue is so problematic in Florida that the Governor signed a new bill, SB 400, allowing for elder abuse fatality teams to apply significant scrutiny when abuse or neglect contributed to the death of an elderly individual. The goal is to establish patterns in abuse cases, fill holes in care, and design improved policies to address the needs of Florida’s elderly.

Penalties for Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a first-degree felony. That means a conviction could result in as much as 30 years behind bars. If the abuse is willful and results in serious physical harm, it is a third-degree felony. That means the abuser could face thousands of dollars in fines in addition to prison time.

Let Us Help You Today

If you suspect—or are a victim of—elder abuse in the state of Florida, it can be a horrific experience. At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our Miami domestic violence attorneys fight on behalf of disenfranchised and abused victims with experience, at the same time providing compassion and care to the victims and their loved ones. Allow us to assist you in addressing this vicious crime.

Resources:

flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2012/825.102

health.usf.edu/publichealth/research/harrellcenter/elder

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