Florida is known for its great beaches and sunshine. It is no wonder that many seniors decide to retire there. Unfortunately for the aging population, Florida is notorious for elder abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, especially the disaster following Hurricane Irma in 2017 that led to 12 deaths.
You may feel worried about putting your parent into a home. Not everyone will suffer from abuse, but those who meet any of the following conditions will have a much greater risk.
Dementia refers to the diseases that harm cognitive function and the ability to take care of oneself. Common symptoms are memory loss, confusion, agitation and decreased reasoning skills. This combination of consequences makes those with dementia an easy target for abuse. They may have difficulty remembering details of the mistreatment or communicating that it is happening. If they do share, others may not believe them.
Another group at risk are those with special needs. They may have little understanding of what is happening to them and, like those with dementia, may not be able to put words to their distress.
Even those who do not suffer from a physical and/or mental disability are not automatically safe from abuse. Seniors who face social or physical isolation also have a high chance of becoming victims. Having strong familial and social connections decreases vulnerability because of the support system such relationships create. Not being physically alone is also a protection, as offenders do not want others to witness the abuse.
How to safeguard your parent
No matter which factor(s) your parent has, you can take steps to provide security. Visit your parent often, and sometimes change up the day and time, so you can stay aware of the care your parent receives. Communicate regularly with your parent, caregivers and medical providers so you are well informed on your parent’s health and treatment plan. Watch for signs of abuse and act promptly if you believe abuse is occurring.