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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Elder Abuse: A Continuing and Growing Problem

We have written here many times about the dangers of elder abuse. Our elders are arguably the most victimized portion of our population, and the problem continues almost unabated.

Elder abuse comes in several forms, according to the National Council on Aging. They include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Confinement
  • Passive neglect
  • Willful deprivation
  • Financial exploitation

At least 1 in 10 American 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 5 million seniors are abused annually. Unfortunately, these numbers may actually be an underestimate because only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported.

Abusers are not limited by gender and almost 60 percent of those who abuse are family members of their victims, with two-thirds of them being adult children or spouses. Elders are more likely victims in part because of social isolation and mental impairment associated with aging.

Among the warning signs of elder abuse (depending on the type of abuse) are injuries such as bruises or burns, unexplained withdrawal from normal activity, sudden changes in the financial situation, bedsores, unusual weight loss, poor hygiene and unattended medical needs.

Victims of elder abuse have a 300 percent greater risk of death than those who have not been mistreated. And elder abuse has a financial impact to older Americans of up to $36 billion, although many experts suggest that is a low estimate.

Elder abuse can be prevented or at least reduced by making sure a trustworthy person is handling finances for seniors, if they can no longer do it themselves. Also, having the appropriate medical and legal documents in place and trying to stay active and connected with friends and family are critical steps to prevent elder abuse.

With so many seniors in Florida, the state is active in the prevention of elder abuse. If you believe you know of a senior who is a victim of elder abuse, contact a qualified elder law attorney and the Florida Adult Protective Services at (800) 962-2873.


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