For Immediate Release: June 15, 2015
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, DCF Secretary Carroll Urges Floridians to Help Fight Abuse
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Mike Carroll said World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, held every year on June 15, serves as an important reminder to Floridians that they can help fight elder abuse by taking time to check on the welfare of a senior.
“I can imagine no greater heartache than to feel forgotten or abandoned, yet sadly too many of our seniors do and that can make them targets for fraud, abuse and neglect,” Secretary Carroll said. “The department is committed to protecting seniors, but we can only accomplish that with help from communities, individuals and organizations who are equally committed to identifying and rooting it out.”
“Our seniors should be treasured and respected,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Samuel P. Verghese. “Elder abuse is never acceptable, and it is the responsibility of each one of us to report to the Elder Abuse Hotline if we see or even suspect abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Being aware of the signs of abuse is critical, and it is up to each of us to put an end to this shameful practice.”
DCF’s Office of Adult Protective Services (APS) works to protect vulnerable seniors and adults from abuse, exploitation and neglect – including self-neglect – and so far in the current fiscal year has conducted nearly 50,000 investigations. The most frequent types of abuse noted are self-neglect, inadequate supervision and financial exploitation.
Here are summaries of three recent cases that illustrate how APS can help:
- An APS investigator was checking on an elderly man for possible self-neglect when she heard a dog barking excessively from a small shed. With some prodding, the man divulged that an elderly woman lived in the shed but insisted she would not want to be disturbed. The investigator followed her instinct, went in the shed and found a frail elderly woman lying covered in filth. The woman was diagnosed with dementia, chronic renal failure, and anemia. Both seniors are now doing well in long-term care facilities, and the elderly woman’s daughter is facing criminal charges.
- An 82-year-old man’s niece had siphoned his bank accounts and was on the verge of selling his house out from under him when APS got a call from the man’s daughter. The niece had offered to take care of her uncle, but instead used his debit card to pay her own bills. The APS investigator had difficulty getting access to the gentleman because of the extent of the niece’s control but caught up with him as his niece tried to push him into her car and get away. The investigator told the shaking man that if he would let her, she could help, and he immediately left with the investigator, who is now working to recover his money.
- A 79-year old woman lost tens of thousands of dollars to claim $2.5 million and a new car in a Jamaican lottery scam yet could not be convinced it was fraud. The investigation began when the con man, posing as her son, asked local law enforcement for a well check visit because the woman wouldn’t respond to his calls. Unable to reach his victim at one point, the con man had pizza delivered along with a message for her to call. Without a court order, the bank could not stop the transfers, and the woman's doctor determined she had no mental incapacities. APS was able to convince the woman to go live with her daughter in another state.
To report abuse of a senior or vulnerable adult, call 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) or report online at FloridaAbuseHotline.com.
In addition to the Adult Protective Services program, the department also helps seniors through its Economic Self-Sufficiency program as well as through Refugee Services, Domestic Violence and Homelessness programs.
Contact: Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450