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What counts as elder abuse in Florida?

Florida is home to more senior citizens than any other U.S. state, with nearly five million residents above the age of 60. With such a high population of elderly people, the Sunshine State should remain aware of circumstances and signs of elder abuse to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors.

Any kind of physical violence towards an elderly person can be elder abuse, including striking, slapping or shaking someone. This can even include minor offenses like pinching or flicking, especially if the behavior is demeaning.

Verbal harassment or intimidation, including any threatening language or implied violence, counts as emotional or psychological abuse. Extensive criticism and isolation from an elder's family and friends may be tantamount to this type of abuse.

Financial or material abuse is especially important if a person has diminished capacity to make important financial decisions. Forcing elders to spend or transfer funds, or accessing their accounts or assets without proper permission, is a serious crime.

Any sort of unwanted sexual attention or action qualifies as abuse. This includes coercion and verbal suggestions.

Family members, community members and caretakers of elder citizens must be on the lookout for symptoms of physical and psychological abuse.

Signs of physical abuse include cuts, burns, bruises and other unexplained injuries or sudden marks. Sunken eyes and cheeks, poor skin color and brittle skin texture may indicate malnourishment or other serious ailment related to neglect.

Psychological abuse may be indicated by expressed anxiety, depression, fear or social withdrawal. Contradictory reports of behavior or hesitation to discuss matters openly might suggest a memory of an abusive incident.

Elders have rights to protect themselves against abuse in the home or an extended care setting or to seek restitution if they are the victims of abuse.

Source: Florida Department of Elder Affairs, "The Power to Prevent Elder Abuse is in Your Hands," accessed July 07, 2017

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