Millions of aging Americans, from every social and economic background, endure abuse and neglect every year. It’s unfortunate, but the truth is anyone can be victimized. “Older Americans” are classified as a generation as those over sixty years of age and are often targeted by unscrupulous and dangerous actors simply because they’re perceived as vulnerable.
There are things seniors can do to protect themselves. If you are a senior citizen, start talking with your family members and friends, and anyone else you trust, about what to do if you’re being abused, neglected or exploited for money. Ask for help. Come up with a plan.
Keep in touch with your support system on a regular basis. Isolation can only make you more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. It’s also recommended that you stay active within your personal network, and get involved with senior-friendly groups that would understand if you needed to share about abuse.
Forging new healthy relationships with other seniors is great for many reasons, but it also helps keep you engaged and protected. Visit or call your confidants often, and be available to listen to them as they may be facing similar concerns. Remember, there is security in numbers.
Other tips include learning about different types of elder abuse and neglect, and talking about potential warning signs. Also, get on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce contact with telemarketers and aggressive sales people. If you’re offered a “prize” or a “loan” on the phone or through email, or if you receive an email message from someone who needs help – and money – do not impulsively respond. Anything that sounds too good to be true, or far-fetched, probably is.
Consult someone you trust before taking any actions involving your signature or large amounts of money. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or intimidated into making immediate decisions. Instead, contact someone you trust. Florida has resources devoted to reducing the threat of elder abuse and exploitation. This includes our Department of Children and Families and the Department of Elder Affairs, together with a dedicated elder abuse hotline that anyone can use to report abuse.
Industry experts also recommend not to provide personal information over the phone such as your Social Security number or bank account number. Although there are exceptions to every rule, be cautious. If you hire someone for personal assistance services, in home care services, or anything similar, make sure that they’ve been properly screened with criminal background checks completed.
Above all, report instances of abuse and neglect to Florida authorities. Chances are you will be helping others from being abused, too. Florida seniors have the right to be safe. Don’t be afraid to speak out and ask us for help when you need it. We are here to answer your questions. Please do not wait to contact us on this or any Florida elder law matter.