When people think of elder abuse, they often assume that it is always something that is perpetrated by someone else. They assume that elder abuse always has a clear perpetrator and a clear victim. This is not always the case. In fact, some cases of abuse stem from self-neglect. The elderly can harm themselves by not taking care of themselves. For example, the elderly may avoid eating, may avoid going to the doctor for needed care, and may avoid using their heating system or doing other necessary things in order to stay safe and healthy. In extreme cases, self-neglect can lead to serious personal injuries, serious medical conditions, slip and fall accidents, and even death.
Unfortunately, while self-neglect is a type of elder abuse, it often goes undetected and unaddressed. In many cases, elders living alone can neglect themselves and have no one notice the neglect. In other cases, elder abuse becomes more complicated, when family and friends allow self-neglect to take place or actually remain unaware that it is taking place.
In Florida, where there is a high population of snowbirds and elders, self-neglect is a serious problem. Unfortunately, it is also very difficult problem with no clear solutions. On one hand, families do not want to take away an older person’s independence. In fact, taking away someone’s dependence can sometimes be very harmful to their self-esteem. At the same time, families may not know when to intervene. Some self-neglect doesn’t cause serious harm, while other types can be dangerous. Determining what type of self-neglect a family is dealing with — and what to do about it — can be very challenging.
There are professionals and agencies that can help families determine whether self-neglect is a problem. And elder person’s doctor can also be an excellent person to speak with about potential self-neglect. Seeking support is often the first step to ensuring that self-neglect does not continue and become a form of abuse.
Of course, while self-neglect is a serious problem, abuse by others still is a problem in Florida and other states. If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused by a caretaker, family member, spouse, or other person, you must report this to your local agency. You may also want to seek legal help to help ensure that the vulnerable adult gets the help they need to stay safe.
If a qualified, experienced, Florida attorney can help you develop your case, contact Flaxman & Lopez today. Call 1- 800-535-2962 (1 800 5 FLAXMAN) to arrange for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options. We can help you understand what decisions you can make to help protect elderly loved one.