As more seniors reside in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care, elder abuse cases continue to rise. The sad reality is that the state of Florida is no exception. Fortunately, the state legislature has enacted laws to protect seniors from exploitation and abuse.
This article will discuss the Florida elder law concerning abuse, important definitions, types of elder abuse, and how to seek help.
Defining Elder Abuse Under Florida Law
Elder abuse in Florida is defined as the intentional or negligent infliction of harm on an individual aged 60 or older. This could include physical, emotional, or sexual harm and financial exploitation. Florida Statutes 825.102 and 415.1111 specifically address these abuses and spell out their legal ramifications for those found guilty.
Types and Signs of Elder Abuse
There are various types of elder abuse, wherever state law may define them differently. In Florida, the following types are most commonly encountered:
- Physical abuse. This can include hitting, slapping, pushing, restraining, or other non-accidental physical contact. Signs of such abuse may consist of bruises and scrapes, broken bones, and restraint marks on wrists and ankles.
- Emotional abuse. This is also known as psychological abuse and includes verbal threats or intimidation that results in distress or fear in the older adult. It can include isolating a senior from family or friends or humiliating them in front of others. Common signs are depression, anxiety, changes in behavior, or withdrawal from social activities due to fear.
- Sexual abuse. This includes any form of non-consensual sexual contact with a senior. It can include inappropriate touching, rape, or forcing them to view pornography. Signs of this type of abuse can be venereal disease, unexplained genital injuries, blood stains on clothing or bedding, and emotional distress.
- Financial exploitation. This is the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or other assets for another person’s gain. Examples could include forging signatures on documents, misusing power of attorney privileges, taking advantage of cognitive decline in seniors, and manipulating elders into changing their will to benefit someone else. Common signs are sudden changes in bank account balances and withdrawals made without permission.
- Neglect. This is the failure of a caregiver or facility to provide basic needs, such as food, water, medication, and shelter, to an aging person. Signs may include poor hygiene, malnutrition or dehydration, and untreated medical conditions.
If you or a loved one has suffered from elder abuse, you must seek the assistance of elderly abuse attorneys. They specialize in elder law and can provide the guidance, representation, and support needed to seek justice and compensation for your loved one.
What Is Florida Medicaid?
The state of Florida provides Medicaid benefits to eligible seniors, which can help cover the cost of long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, some long-term care facilities may engage in abusive practices.
If a facility is found guilty of elder abuse, Florida’s elder law mandates that they may face penalties, fines, license revocation or suspension, and potential criminal charges. Seniors and their families should also consider contacting an elder law attorney experienced in Medicaid planning to ensure they receive the proper care they deserve and prevent mishandling of benefits.
Elder abuse is a severe problem that must be addressed with vigilance, education, and proper support systems. If you understand Florida’s elder abuse laws and know the resources available, you can protect your senior loved ones and ensure their well-being. In addition, by recognizing the signs of abuse, reporting suspected cases, and seeking legal help from specialized attorneys in elder law, you can promote a safer environment for them within Florida’s communities.