Elder Fraud, Abuse & Exploitation and What You Can Do About It

Elder Fraud, Abuse & Exploitation and What You Can Do About It

Elder Fraud, Abuse & Exploitation and
What You Can Do About It

ElderCare at Home has long been recognized as a fierce advocate for Palm Beach County’s senior population.  We’ve helped thousands of families across this country by referring them to professional, caring and trustworthy home health aides, certified nurses aides, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, all of whom help to their to keep their loved one at home, and safe from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

And although we’d love to help everyone, we can’t… So what do YOU do if you suspect an older adult is being abused or neglected? Who do you call if you’re suspicious that someone you care about is being taken advantage of by their guardian? What are some of the warning signs that you should look for?

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has published a great Consumer Resource Guide that you can read here, and that will answer some of your questions.  And as always, you can call ElderCare at Home anytime – for guidance and support.

ElderCare at Home believes in that old saying “respect your elders”, and getting older should earn 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 you are in an abusive situation, it is important for you to know that you have legal rights and that elder abuse is a crime. You have the right to live your life free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Elder Abuse includes: • Mental, emotional or verbal abuse • Sexual abuse • Neglect • Self-neglect • Financial exploitation

Abuse
Abuse can take many forms. Any willful act or threat that causes (or is likely to cause) 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. Unfortunately, many seniors know their abusers well – reports of abuse committed by adult children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors, or in-home health care providers have become commonplace. 

Signs of Abuse • Cuts, burns, bruises or welts • Dehydration or malnutrition • Lack of food, water or utilities • Fear, anxiety, agitation or anger • Isolation, depression or ambivalence

Neglect
Neglect occurs when caregivers fail to provide elders with the essentials they need to maintain their physical and mental health.
A person 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.

Signs of Neglect • Unsafe living conditions • Body odor, dirty clothing and hair • Unexplained weight loss • Bedsores • Lack of medical/ personal care • Confusion or cognitive impairment • Wandering or social isolation • Hoarding

Self-neglect is the most common type of abuse reported to Adult Protective Services. Self-neglect is a form of neglect in which an elder can no longer perform essential daily activities such as providing his or her own food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Self-neglect also includes situations in which a person can no longer obtain goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, emotional well-being or general safety, or can no longer manage his or her financial affairs.

Exploitation
Exploitation involves the unauthorized handling or use of an elderly person’s money, property or other valuable resources. Unfortunately, unsuspecting elders can be exploited in many different ways. 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.

Signs of Exploitation • Unusual transfer of assets • Unable to pay bills • Forged signatures • Personal belongings missing • Unusual credit/ debit card usage

How do I know if someone has been or is being abused?

Abuse can take many forms. Any willful act or threat that causes (or is likely to cause) 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.

Unfortunately, many seniors know their abusers well – reports of abuse committed 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 they need to maintain their physical and mental health. A person 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.

What about Guardians who abuse, neglect or exploit?

In Palm Beach County you can use the Guardianship Fraud Hotline, where you can anonymously report potential incidents of financial fraud or waste involving court-appointed guardianships over elderly, minor children and incapacitated individuals. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Missing money or property
  • Suspicious loans, funds transfers, opened or closed accounts/lines of credit
  • Suspicious purchase or sale of real or personal property
  • Violations of federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations
  • Guardian has a conflict of interest or exhibits signs of more expensive lifestyle
  • Forced removal from their home or residence

Submissions are sent directly to the Clerk & Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General.

How to File a Guardianship Fraud Report:

The Florida 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 to report and investigate 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.

To report elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, contact the Florida Abuse Hotline toll-free at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). 

To report fraud or financial exploitation, contact your local law enforcement office or the Florida Division of Financial Institutions consumer helpline at 1-877-693-5236.

You can read the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Consumer Resource Guide for more information on Elder Rights, Abuse and Fraud, here.

 

ElderCare at Home refers professional, experienced, caring, compassionate and trustworthy private duty in home caregivers in the following areas:

ElderCare at Home Boynton Beach
ElderCare at Home Delray Beach
ElderCare at Home Boca Raton
ElderCare at Home Lake Worth
ElderCare at Home West Palm Beach
ElderCare at Home North Palm Beach
ElderCare at Home Palm Beach Gardens
ElderCare at Home Jupiter
ElderCare at Home Wellington

To learn how ElderCare at Home can help you, call us at 888-285-0093