Elder abuse is a particularly heinous crime that takes advantage of some of society’s weakest citizens. A compassionate Tampa elder abuse lawyer can help you protect your loved ones and represent your family through arbitration or a civil trial. Though some abuse victims feel ashamed because they have been abused, speaking out is an important part of removing abusers from nursing homes, caregiving services, and other positions of power. It can also help in the recovery process by empowering former victims.
The saying “Respect your elders” is not just about heeding those older than us. It’s also about recognizing the knowledge and wisdom the elderly have built up throughout their lives and the care and compassion they bestowed on those they raised. This is, in part, one reason why elder abuse is so despicable.
Caregivers who betray their positions of trust and responsibility and harm those in their care turn their charges into victims. Their abuse attempts to minimize the wonderful lives those in their care have led and should continue to live.
While Florida legislators and the Department of Elder Affairs attempt to curb the occurrence of elder abuse, loved ones continue to be victimized at the hands of those who may be poorly trained, overly-stressed, or who are just plain malicious.
If you feel your loved one may be a victim of elder abuse, contact a Tampa elder abuse lawyer to discuss how you should proceed with the situation, who you should report the abuse to, and what legal options you and your family may have.
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What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is defined by the CDC as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” In this definition, an older adult is someone who is 60 years old or older.
This often includes Nursing Home Abuse. Types of abuse can vary and some cases may involve multiple types of abuse. Elder abuse can take the form of:
- Physical Abuse
- Psychological Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Financial Abuse
Physical abuse of an elder includes the hitting, striking, biting, choking, suffocating, slapping, kicking or other physical harm of an older adult by a caretaker or someone with a relationship to the older adult. When thinking of elder abuse, most people think of physical abuse, although neglect is more common.
Psychological abuse of an elder includes shaming, threatening, humiliating, isolating, or controlling an older adult verbally or nonverbally. Caretakers and those in a position of trust who insult, take away rights, or otherwise limit an older adult inflict emotional anguish which can scare, shame, and diminish.
Sexual abuse of an elder includes all unwanted sexual contact between an older adult and a caregiver or other person in a position of trust. Sexual abuse can be difficult to spot, though it can result in behavior changes such as depression, withdrawal, anger, and shame.
Neglect of an elder includes the failure to meet the basic needs of an older adult or the failure to protect an older adult from harm. In addition to medical care, basic needs include food, water, clothing, and shelter. Failure to meet these needs could lead to illness, hospitalization, and even death. Dehydration and malnutrition are some of the most common signs of neglect.
Financial abuse of an elder includes the misuse of an older adult’s financial resources or possession for the benefit of someone else. Forging checks, convincing an older person to change vital documents such as wills or a power of attorney, stealing money, and taking belongings are all examples of how a caretaker or person in a position of trust can take advantage of an older adult’s finances or assets.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Spotting elder abuse can be difficult. If you have hired a caretaker for a loved one or have placed an older adult in a nursing home, it’s important to stay in contact and visit to ensure your loved one is receiving the care they deserve.
If you believe your loved one may be suffering from elder abuse, check for some of the symptoms of abuse and remove them from an unsafe situation. Note that not all signs of abuse are easy to spot like bruises or scratches; some signs of elder abuse are behavioral.
The following list identifies some common signs of elder abuse, though it is by no means comprehensive. If you believe your loved one is suffering at the hands of a caretaker or someone in a position of trust, remove them from the situation and contact a Tampa elder abuse lawyer immediately.
Physical Signs of Elder Abuse
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Visible bruises, cuts, welts, or bedsores
- Unexplained broken bones
- Sunken eyes or paleness
- Soiled clothing or bedding
- Missing items, unpaid bills, or important document changes
Behavioral or Psychological Signs of Elder Abuse
- New fears or anxieties
- Abandonment of activities they once enjoyed
- Anger or agitation
When to Contact a Tampa Elder Abuse Lawyer
It’s important to speak to a Tampa elder abuse lawyer if your loved one displays the signs of elder abuse or if you suspect your loved one is being abused. Those who are abused may need to undergo counseling, receive medical care, or recover lost resources. A knowledgeable Tampa elder abuse lawyer can help guide you as you assist your loved one in their recovery and find them a new, trustworthy caretaker.
Caretakers are held to a specific standard. They are entrusted with the important work of ensuring our loved ones receive medical attention and have their basic needs met. When a caretaker or person in a position of power abuses an older adult, they break that trust and jeopardize the life of those entrusted to their care. While it may be simple to move on to a new caretaker, reporting abuse is important for protecting other older adults. Speak to a Tampa elder abuse lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.
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