The state of Florida takes any suspicions of elderly abuse quite seriously. In fact, it is mandatory for anyone that has reason to believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited to report this behavior to the proper authorities. This prompts the question: How do I report any instances of elderly abuse? Our Pasco County Nursing Home and ALF Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to provide you with the information you need to keep our elderly citizens safe.
What Are The Signs of Elderly Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation?
Physical abuse or neglect is usually the result of some type of violence that results in injuries to the victim like bruises, burns, abrasions, pressure marks, broken bones, etc. Usually these injuries cannot be explained and happen rather frequently.
The elderly are often vulnerable to emotional abuse by a caretaker, and warning signs could be sudden changes in mood or alertness, unusual depression, arguments that happen frequently or any noticeably strained or tense relationships between the older person and their caretaker, etc.
The elderly are also targets for financial exploitation, so if you notice any sudden financial changes to their situation then financial abuse could be the culprit. Warning signs include missing cash or checkbooks, sudden will changes that could be forged, other financial documents being changed or possibly forged, missing valuables, expensive gifts or money being given to caretakers, etc.
Another form of abuse commonly inflicted upon elderly victims is emotional or verbal abuse. If you have seen an elderly victim threatened or belittled by their caretaker, or witnessed any other similar actions, then you should report these actions right away.
A neglected elderly person is also a victim of abuse. If an elderly person’s medical needs are not being met, if they are not being provided proper shelter, clothing, water, food, etc. this constitutes neglect. If you hear an elderly person complain of being hungry or thirsty, not having medical supplies or medications they need, poor hygiene, bedsores, unusual weight loss, etc. then you need to report the neglect as soon as possible.
There are many different agencies that handle cases of elderly abuse, neglect and exploitation, so it can be confusing as to who you should contact. However, as with any emergency situation, if an elderly person’s life or safety is in immediate danger you should always call 911 first to make sure they are removed from a dangerous and life threatening situation right away.
If you have witnessed any elderly abuse, neglect or exploitation of a senior citizen or even if you think an elderly person might be a victim of abuse, you should call the Florida Abuse Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) to make sure your concerns are voiced. You will be asked to press 2 if you suspect any abuse or neglect is happening to an elderly person. Online reports can be made as well by clicking here. The TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is 1-800-453-5145. You can also fax in a report at 1-800-914-0004. You will want to include your name and contact information with your detailed report so that you can be reached for any follow up questions.
What Happens When I Make A Report of Elderly Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation?
However you choose to make your report about what you have witnessed or suspect is happening just be prepared to give as much detail as possible. You will need to have the victim’s full name and contact information. You will likely be asked about the victim’s current situation, such as their medical needs, family members, and of course further details about what you have seen happening or suspect is happening (fighting, unexplained injuries, medical needs not being met, hitting, etc.)
You will be asked to give your name and contact information, but keep in mind that if you wish to remain anonymous the state of Florida will still take your report and investigate accordingly.
If the abuse, neglect or exploitation is happening at a nursing home or assisted living facility, then your complaints will be handled by a state Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman. Annette Perry is the District Ombudsman Manager for Pasco County as well as Pinellas County. Her contact information is:
Annette Perry, West Coast District Ombudsman Manager
11351 Ulmerton Road, Suite 303
Largo, FL 33778
Phone: (727) 588-6912
Fax: 727 (588) 3648
What Do I Do After I Make A Report of Elderly Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation?
If you have any suspicions that a relative or friend is the victim of elderly abuse at their nursing home or assisted living facility in Pasco County, you should always report your concerns to the proper authorities first. Once that is done, we strongly recommend giving our Pasco County Nursing Home and ALF Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton a call at 727-847-2299 to get more detailed information on how to make sure the abuser and the facility that allowed any abuse, exploitation or neglect to happen is held accountable for their recklessness.