When an elderly person is being abused, sometimes it can be tricky to spot any disturbing signs. Whether they are in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or staying in their home or the home of a loved one being cared for by a spouse, child, or an in-home nurse, there are usually certain indications that can point to abuse, neglect or exploitation by the caretaker. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has research that shows that 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse, which adds up to about 5 million senior citizens every single year. In most cases of abuse, 60% of abusers are family members of the elderly person. Even worse, only 1 in 14 cases are reported to authorities.
How Can I Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse?
You may notice physical changes and even behavioral changes if someone you know is being abused by a family member or nursing home or assisted living facility staff members. As we mentioned above, not all signs of abuse are easy to spot, but some signs are big red flags, including:
- Bruising: if you notice any bruises in odd places or any bruises that cannot be explained then it is best to report your suspicions.
- Falls or cuts that cannot be explained
- Broken bones or fractures
- Pale complexion
- Bed sores
- Poor hygiene
- Personal items, money, credit cards, or checkbooks that are missing
- Unattended patients
- A patient living in dirty conditions
- Bugs or rodents present in the the living quarters
- Lack of proper AC or heating systems
The state of Florida takes a strong stance on stopping elderly abuse, which is why it is mandatory to report any suspicions to the proper authorities. If the elderly person you believe is being abused is in immediate danger, then you need to call 911 right away. This ensures that the person will be removed from the dangerous situation and will be safe.
If you have witnessed anything that you think could be an indication of elderly abuse or neglect, then you need to report your findings to the Florida Abuse Hotline by calling their 24 hour phone line at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). Be prepared to press 2 to report your suspicions of elderly abuse and/or neglect. You can also make an online report here. You can fax in a report at 1-800-914-0004 and the TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is 1-800-453-5145. When making your report, you should include your name and contact information so that you can be connected with any follow up questions. Of course if you wish to remain anonymous you can still file a report that will be investigated.
If any abuse and/or neglect is happening at a nursing home or assisted living facility, then all complaints will be handled by a state Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman. Lori Berndt is the District Ombudsman Manager for Citrus County. Her contact information is:
Lori Berndt, North Central District Ombudsman Manager
1515 E Silver Springs Blvd. #203
Ocala, FL 34470
Telephone: (352) 620-3088
Fax: (352) 732-1797
How Can Whittel & Melton Help with Elderly Abuse Claims?
Nursing homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and family members who are caretakers of the elderly are required to meet the needs of the elderly patient and make sure that they are taken care of properly. There are far too many elderly victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the U.S. every single year. If you suspect that your loved one’s health is at risk, you should never delay in seeking help to put a stop to their suffering. Our Citrus County Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the laws that protect your loved one and what can be done to recover justice for any pain and suffering they have endured. Continue reading