Did you know that elder abuse has become a worldwide epidemic? Research tells us that today one in ten seniors over the age of sixty has suffered from some kind of elder abuse. Chances are that your friends, your aging family members, or even you, have had a personal experience with elder abuse. The question becomes: what can you to help protect yourself and those you love from falling victim to this horrible crime?
Part of the solution comes from education for Florida seniors as well as our local community. In fact, this June 15th, communities around the world are coming together to celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and promote awareness to all. Our goal is to both help raise awareness of this important issue and provide ways you can help prevent harm from occurring. Let us share eight ideas with you right here in our blog.
- Don’t talk to strangers. It may sound like a lesson from childhood but it is a good tip for all of us to remember. Do not share your personal information with anyone you do not know.
- Double check identities. Similar to not talking to strangers, double check the identity of anyone who contacts you asking for your information. For example, simply because you receive a telephone call from someone saying he or she is from your bank, this does not mean the person actually is. Hang up the phone if you receive a call like this and call your bank directly from a trusted telephone number.
- Do your research. If it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it probably often is. Scammers and others who would harm seniors know what you are interested in and ways to motivate you to take action. Research anything you receive before providing money or personal information.
- Know the IRS will not call you. At this time, the IRS does not call people. Many scammers, however, will still call Older Americans and try to scare them into making payment on false IRS tax liens. When in doubt, call the IRS or your accountant directly.
- Learn how to report abuse. In Florida, you can click this link to learn how to report abuse. Bear in mind, that you do not have to prove abuse to report it.
- Understand the different types of abuse. Not all abuse can be seen, nor is it physical in nature. Elder abuse can take many forms including emotional and sexual abuse. It may also result from neglect and financial exploitation.
- Stay in frequent communication with friends and family. It is never the wrong time to check in on another person. Frequent communication is one of the best ways to not only avoid isolation but ensure that you do not find yourself in a vulnerable or unsupported place in your life. Even if it is just to say hello or share what happened in your week, talk to your family members and friends at least once a week.
- Choose your decision makers early. Remember, in a crisis where you are incapacitated and unable to advocate for yourself, no one has the legal authority to act for you. Decide now the person or persons you want to make your financial or health care decisions should you be unable to and talk to your elder law attorney to create an estate plan that reflects your wishes.
Remember, elder abuse of any kind should not be tolerated. If you suspect abuse is occurring, report it to the authorities. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers and want to help you. Do not wait to contact our law firm on this or any other elder care issue now or in the future.