Elder abuse and social media

Roughly two million seniors are victims of elder abuse every year, according to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide. Cases often involve nursing home employees, who are charged with physically abusing the residents they are entrusted to care. But there is another growing method of elder abuse that authorities are concerned about.

Nursing home workers are filming themselves doing something inappropriate or lewd in front of their elderly patients and posting it to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, First Coast News reported in February. Some young workers thought it was funny to post the videos on social media to get a laugh from friends and followers.

But it’s not funny. Sometimes the videos are recorded at a nursing home; other times when caretakers are working with elderly who live alone. The posts are a way to humiliate older people who already are easy targets of physical and financial abuse from people they are supposed to be able to trust.

A database created by watchdog ProPublica suggests social media abuse is on the rise. They’ve tracked 47 incidents since 2012. Reports of abuse, including those that happen online, can be made confidentially in Florida to authorities, although many, many are not reported.

It’s important that families are involved with their elderly loved one’s care, whether it’s at a nursing home or assisted living facility or in the home with a caregiver. Many elderly residents of those homes are unable to communicate what’s happening, or they fear retaliation from nursing home staff members if they report incidents of abuse. There is a feeling of intense fear and helplessness that may encourage a senior who is being abused to dismiss it because they worry nobody will believe them or that they can’t live anywhere else.

If you have questions, contact an experienced elder care attorney. According to the Nursing Home Abuse guide, lawyers who are committed to elder care and the prevention of elder abuse can help families obtain information on nursing home abuse and help with long-term planning care so that loved ones are placed in a facility that puts their needs first.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.


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