If you have a parent, or other loved one, who is enjoying their “Golden Years,” it is in their best interest for you to learn more about the growing problem of elder abuse in the United States. Sadly, as the nation’s older population continues to explode, the rate at which elder abuse occurs appears to be rising as well. The reality is that the elderly are frequently victimized by unscrupulous predators who target those they perceive as vulnerable. To help you protect your loved one, the Port St. Lucie elder law attorneys Kulas & Crawford offer tips aimed at preventing elder abuse.
How Bad Is the Elder Abuse Problem?
Elder abuse is not a new problem; however, as millions of Baby Boomers move into their retirement years, the problem of elder abuse has gained a significant amount of attention in the U.S. Compiling accurate figures relating to elder abuse is difficult for several reasons, including the reluctance of victims to admit being a victim. As the following facts and figures illustrate, however, abuse of the elderly is a serious problem in the U.S.
- 1 in 10 older Americans (age 60+) will suffer some type of elder abuse this year.
- There are estimated to be over 2 million instances of elder abuse each year, not including financial exploitation.
- 5 million seniors are the victim of financial exploitation each year.
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected.
How Can You Prevent Elder Abuse?
We all need to be aware of the elder abuse problem in the U.S. as well as be on the lookout for signs that an elderly loved one is the victim of abuse. Ideally, however, we need to prevent elder abuse before it occurs. The following tips will help you to prevent an elderly loved one from becoming a victim:
- Talk to your loved one. Sit down with your loved one and have a very frank discussion about the issue of elder abuse. Do your homework ahead of time and have some facts and figures to share. Emphasize that one reason predators and abusers target the elderly is that so many elderly individuals are too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward and report the abuse. Reassure your loved one that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that the best way to take away an abuser’s power over victims is to expose him/her.
- Educate everyone involved. Sit down with family members and friends and make sure everyone is aware of the elder abuse issue. Go over signs of abuse so that everyone knows what to look for and create a plan to ensure that someone is checking on your loved one on a regular basis.
- Research facilities and caregivers. Before you hire an in-home health care worker or choose a long-term care facility (LTC), make sure you research the individual/facility first. In the State of Florida, contact the Agency for Health Care Administration to check a nursing home for complaints.
- Make your presence known. Whether someone else is caring for your loved one at home or your loved one is in an LTC facility, make sure that you (or another family member) drop in unannounced on a regular basis to keep caregivers on their toes.
- Report concerns. Above all else, do not hesitate to report any concerns you have to the appropriate person or authority. The old adage “better safe than sorry” applies in this situation. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, speak to a supervisor or administrative staff immediately about your concerns. If those concerns are not alleviated immediately, make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency and consult with an experienced Florida elder law attorney to discuss your legal options.
Contact Port St. Lucie Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding elder abuse and how you can help prevent a loved one from becoming a victim, contact the experienced Port St. Lucie elder law attorneys at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.