You might breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your aging parents are being cared for by a family member, such as one of your siblings or one of their adult grandchildren. However, as time passes, you might notice things that make you wonder if your relative is not providing the type of care you would want for your parents. At the Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L., we believe all elderly Florida residents deserve to be treated with dignity, kindness and respect in their final years.
Unfortunately, we are also aware of the prevalence of elder abuse in Florida and throughout the country. According to the National Care Planning Council, an estimated one out of every 10 senior citizens are the victims of abuse, and authorities believe only about one out of 14 cases are officially reported. While you might believe the majority of elder abuse occurs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, most cases of elder abuse – a staggering 90 percent, in fact – are inflicted by family members.
You may be dismayed to learn that elder abuse by relatives comes in all forms. A spouse, sibling, child or grandchild might abuse a senior physically, by hitting, pinching, slapping, kicking or other hurtful ways. The caregiver might yell, insult, belittle and intimidate the elder. A relative in a caregiving position might coerce, threaten or deceive elders into signing over the title to their property, giving him or her access to their bank accounts or making him or her the sole beneficiary of their will. Often, familial caregivers may threaten to isolate the elder or withhold care if they do not get what they want.
If you suspect your parents are being abused by the relative caring for them, you might learn the truth by speaking to them privately, if possible. Attempt to spend time with them regularly or offer to give their caregiver a break from duties. Watch for signs of abuse, such as withdrawal, depression, forced isolation, unexplained injuries or money missing from accounts. Consider going over their estate planning with them. As our page explains, there are many ways to legally protect your parents from exploitation and abuse.