Unfortunately, the elderly are too often victims of abuse, exploitation, and neglect. In most cases the abuser is a caretaker, family member or friend. Elder abuse refers to any act or omission resulting in abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an individual over the age of sixty-five (65).
Signs of Elder Abuse
People over the age of 65 are sometimes deliberately harmed financially by a relative or close friend. Family members or friends may exploit a senior citizen by taking their money or property; misusing checks, bank accounts, or credit cards; stealing personal belongings; forging signatures; or authorizing withdrawals or transfers from a senior’s bank account. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 90 percent of perpetrators are family members or people the victims know well. However, in some cases, strangers financially abuse elders by soliciting them through lottery, charity, and telemarketing scams. There are even professionals – such as mortgage brokers, stock brokers or life insurance agents – that influence the elderly into inappropriate reverse mortgages or other types of loans, or selling an unsuitable annuity or life insurance product or investments. Seniors can also become victims of securities schemes, identity theft, and Medicare scams.
Common signs of elder abuse may include:
- Changes of ownership in title to the property by sale or deed
- The senior is forced to sign over Power of Attorney
- The senior not spending money the way they want
- The senior’s bills not being paid on time or even paid at all
- The senior’s bank account assets are gone
- The senior’s bank account activity showing random or unexplainable withdrawals, transfers or checks
- A sudden change in their financial situation
- Elder’s personal property goes missing
- Their will is changed or inexplicably gone missing
- The elder is isolated from friends and family
How to Hold Wrongdoers Responsible for Elder Abuse
Florida law criminalizes the abuse of seniors and protects such victims by allowing for civil law suits to be filed against the abuser. When most people think of abuse they often think of physical abuse or neglect, but Florida law also protects seniors from exploitation. Exploitation of a senior occurs when a person stands in a position of confidence and knowingly deceives the senior by using their financial assets or property for one’s own benefit. Financial abuse can encompass a broad spectrum and can involve perpetrators who are in a trusting relationship and those who are complete strangers. A family member, guardian, or a loved one who believes that there is an incident of elder abuse usually reports the abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services, and should also seek qualified attorneys to obtain the most desirable outcome.
We Can Help You Fight Back
The most important thing you can do is seek legal counsel when you become aware of any situation that results in elder abuse. The attorneys at Oppenheim Law advocate for both elders and their representatives. Contact us online or by phone at 954-384-6114 today, and our lawyers will review your case and help identify the proper avenues to take care and resolve the problem.