Florida has long been a destination for retired Americans and their families. According to the Florida Health Care Association, the population of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double in the next decade to over 71 million. With this exponential increase in the elderly population, the need for the long term and residential assisted living facilities will be increased as well.
Assisted living facilities often are understaffed and their employees are routinely underpaid. If you are considering an assisted living facility or community-based care, you will want to research them as thoroughly as possible. Request to tour the facilities, check to see if the residents are well cared for and if the employees are engaging them. If you are hiring an in-home caregiver, run a background check, and investigate whether they have a history of abuse or neglect. Only about 5% of registered caregivers have any criminal record, but you may contact the Department of Children and Families and conduct a background screening for any potential bad conduct.
If your loved one is currently in an assisted living facility or receiving in-home or community services, you want to look for any potential warning signs of neglect or abuse such as:
- Bruises, welts, scars, or open sores, especially if the person cannot or will not explain how they happened.
- Broken bones, dislocated joints or severe sprains
- Reported drug overdose or improperly administered medication
- Indications of restraints being used, such as rope burns
- Facility or caregiver refuses private visitation
- Signs of emotional abuse such as negative or belittling comments from caregiver
- Signs of sexual abuse such as bruising around private areas or unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Signs of neglect such as sudden weight loss, bedsores, infrequent bathing, inappropriate dress for weather or season, or elder being left unattended for long periods of time or left in a public place alone
Beyond these obvious physical signs of abuse, family members will want to look for signs of manipulation or exploitation such as:
- Large withdrawals from elder’s account
- Missing valuables from the home or resident’s room
- Suspicious changes in legal documents such as wills and power of attorney
- Unpaid medical bills
If you suspect any abuse or illegal activity by a caregiver or assisted living facility, you may report it to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. If serious injury, death or financial loss is suffered, you will need to speak to an attorney who is experienced in Elder Law, the attorneys of Massey & Duffy have represented the families of loved ones in Alachua, Lake, Columbia, Levy, Sumter, and Marion counties, who have been abused by nursing home employees/caregivers and will help you recover damages. Call (352) 505-8900 today for a FREE CONSULTATION.