Elder Abuse on the Rise in Florida

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Florida is a popular destination for retirees. But in the sunshine state, the department of elder affairs says it has received 42,000 reports of abuse and neglect already this year. That's up nearly 15% from last year.

"They're becoming more and more common as our society ages. And a lot of it is care-giver related," says Elder Law Attorney Twyla Sketchley.

Experts say it's common for caregivers who work with people with dementia or other mental illnesses to become frustrated. But for some, the frustration turns to abuse. And sometimes there's a financial incentive.

"There's usually a motive for keeping someone captive or for physically harming them. The physical harm can be used to take their social security check or pension check. Physical harm or the threat of physical harm can cause someone to give over a bank account," adds Sketchley.

But new legislation will double the jail time for assault on an elderly person taking the offense from a second degree felony to first degree.
And taking max jail sentences from 15 years to 30 years behind bars.

Officers say when it comes to catching the crooks there are sometimes red flags.

"There's checks written in large amounts to a person that's a care giver. That's a sad situation but a lot of times that's the person closest to them that's giving the care is maybe the one doing the most harm," says Detective Todd Chaires of the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

The bill will also require police to have special training to help officers spot elder abuse.

Officials say elder abuse is extremely under reported, so anyone who suspects a senior is being abused or if you are being abused yourself, you can contact the Department of children and Families at
1-800-96- ABUSE




 
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