Since 2011, the number of verified cases of elder abuse in the state of Florida has increased by 74 percent, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. In 2015, the statewide total was 2,525. According to a study by the University of Kentucky, nearly 90 percent of cases of elder abuse and neglect occur at home. Additionally, the study reported that one third of the abusers were the children of their victim, and that more than half of the abusers were females in their 40’s.
Due to the nature of the relationship between victim and abuser, cases of elder abuse are often difficult to prosecute. Victims have close emotional ties to their abuser and choose to endure poor treatment for fear that their loved one could get in trouble. Many victims are afraid of living life outside of their abusive home and choose to endure rather than risk feelings of abandonment in a nursing home facility. Other victims have lost the ability to talk or properly communicate to an authority that they are being abused.
In the past five years, more than 800 people have been charged with elder abuse and neglect in Florida, with more than 370 being convicted or sentenced. In Brooklyn, New York, an analysis performed by the district attorney’s office showed that most abusers suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol or a mental illness.
In a case earlier this year in the state of Florida, abuse victim Lillian Moses, 95, was wheeled into the courtroom on a hospital bed to testify in the elderly abuse case against her grandson, Thomas Keefe White, who was charged with physically harming and neglecting her. In January, Moses told investigators that White had hit her, left her bedridden and alone for days at a time with only a bottle of water, crackers, and an Ensure. At this time, authorities discovered that she had bed sores, a broken leg, and an infection. White’s attorney argued that Moses was never abused, and that she was taking medication that made her confused and incoherent.
Despite her documented physical state, Moses told the judge hearing her case that she had not been abused and wanted to return home to live with White. She took personal responsibility for her bed sores, claiming it was up to her to change positions and turn herself every two hours. She claimed that her grandson took good care of her. At the end of the hearing, the judge granted her wish and allowed her to return home to live with White, under the condition that he hire home health aides to come to the house during the day to care for her. White was ordered to stay home at night so that she would not be alone.
According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no federal agency keeps detailed, comprehensive records of elderly abuse claims. Dozens of social service and government agencies track what happens on local and state levels. These agencies are given the difficult task of being the voice of victims that cannot or are not wiling to speak for themselves. Following the documented abuse of Lillian Moses in January 2016, Thomas White was arrested and ordered to have no contact with his grandmother. It was only at the request of White’s attorney that the May hearing was scheduled, charges dropped, and Moses was allowed to return home to her grandson.
This decision directly demonstrates the difficulty in achieving justice in cases of elderly abuse. For guidance in properly handling reports of elderly abuse or to find out if filing an elder abuse lawsuit is an option to protect an elderly family member or loved one, contact Thomas Law Offices for more information. Tad Thomas, Louisville, KY elder abuse lawyer, and his expert team of personal injury attorneys are equipped to handle all types of nursing home abuse and neglect cases and can bring your family peace of mind.