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Elder Abuse & Exploitation: What to Look For

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Elder Abuse & Exploitation: What to Look For
Posted on: May 13th, 2013
By: Hallie Zobel, Esq.

Attorney David Pilcher and I spoke at the Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute on pertinent estate planning, guardianship, and elder law subjects; more specifically, elder abuse. Our goal was to educate state law enforcement on the many aspects of elder abuse.

According to the American Psychological Association, roughly 2.1 million elderly Americans become victims to abuse each year. Elderly adults may become victimized due to isolation, physical and/or mental disabilities, and dependence on others. Elderly victims are often reluctant to report abuse. The abuser may be family and the victim may mistakenly defend them or feel that they deserved the abuse or exploitation in some way. As with any type of abuse, they may also feel ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid.

To stop cases of elder abuse and exploitation, awareness and early reporting is necessary.

Physical Abuse: Physical elder abuse is the non-accidental use of force against an elderly person resulting in physical injury or pain. This type of abuse also includes the inappropriate use of drugs, confinement, or restraints.

Psychological Abuse: Emotional elder abuse is when the abuser speaks to or treats the victim in ways that cause emotional pain and distress. Verbal forms of psychological abuse include yelling or threats, humiliation and ridicule, and habitual blaming. Non-verbal forms of psychological abuse include ignoring, isolating, and terrorizing the elderly person.

Neglect or Abandonment: Neglect or failure to fulfill a care-taking obligation is the basis for half of all reported cases of elder abuse.

Financial Exploitation: This is the unauthorized use of an elderly person’s financial property. This is usually seen in the form of a scam. The abuser might use the victim’s credit cards or checks, steal cash, forge signatures, or encourage the victim to change their will or power of attorney. Typical scams include fake charities or investment opportunities, and announcements of a “prize” requiring the victim to pay money to claim.

Healthcare Fraud: This is carried out by unethical doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. Examples of this type of abuse include not providing healthcare but charging for it, double-billing or overcharging for services, over or under-medicating, and medicaid fraud.

If you need to report the abuse, neglect and exploitation of a disabled adult or elderly adult over the age of 60, please call the Florida Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873)

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