Be Aware of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

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Aug 22, 2013

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Florida - Southwest

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Getting older should afford you more respect, not less. No one at any age should be subjected to physical or mental abuse. If you are a senior and believe that you are in an abusive situation, it is important for you to know that you have rights and realize that elder abuse is a crime. As Americans, we all have the right to live our lives free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The Department of Elder Affairs is committed to working with the network of social services and law enforcement agencies throughout the state to protect Florida's elders from abusive situations and environments. The Adult Protective Services Act (Chapter 415 of Florida Law) requires the state to have specific procedures for reporting and investigating instances of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of disabled adults and the elderly. The Department of Children and Families Adult Protective Services Office serves as the lead agency for handling reports and investigations of abuse.
How do you know if you have been abused? There are many forms of abuse. Any willful act or threat that causes (or is likely to cause) you significant physical, mental or emotional harm is considered an act of abuse. Common forms of abuse include: hitting, pushing, shaking, beating, yelling, verbal harassment, coercive behavior, intimidation and other acts that cause harm. Un-fortunately, many seniors know their abusers well. Sadly, reports of abuse conducted by adult children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors, or in-home health care providers have become commonplace.
Neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide elders with the essentials needed to maintain their physical and mental health. Your parent could be a victim of neglect anytime, someone in charge of their care deprives them of food, clothing or medical care. In most cases, neglectful behavior is repeated over a period of time.
Exploitation involves the un-authorized handling or usage of an elderly persons money, property or other valuable resources. Un-fortunately, there are many ways in which unsuspecting elders can be exploited. Those who misuse their power of attorney or their guardianship status in a way that results in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of property or personal assets is guilty of exploitation.
For additional information on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, contact the Senior Choices Helpline toll-free at 1-866-413-5337. If you suspect elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, call the Abuse Hotline at (800) 96-ABUSE (2873).

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