Sunny weather and a lower cost of living has made Florida a premier retirement destination for generations. As the population of seniors living in Florida grows, so does the potential for cases of elder abuse and neglect. Like all states, Florida has a system to prevent elder abuse and neglect. But a large number of seniors and nursing home facilities in Florida stretches resources. Rather than prevent nursing home abuse, regulators are often responding to complaints from residents and family members. A recent report found that Florida was the 6th best state for elder abuse complaints, but near the bottom of almost everything else.
The financial protection service WalletHub did an analysis of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to rank each on how well they protected seniors against elder abuse. Their report used 14 metrics. Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.” These metrics were weighted to give each state a final score.
Though Florida has the highest percentage of seniors by population in the U.S., the Sunshine State was ranked near the middle in the recent report. WalletHub gave Florida a score of 48.68 which put the state at #22 for the best protection for seniors. At first glance, this may not seem too bad, but digging into the numbers provides disturbing insights into the issue of elder abuse in Florida.
First, here is the good news. Florida was in the top 10 in the nation for the lowest prevalence of elder abuse. When dividing the number of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints by the number of residents aged 65 and older, Florida ranked sixth in the nation. Keep in mind that this doesn’t encompass every instance of elder abuse. To ensure they’re using uniform measurements, “Complaints”only included those made to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. And since Florida has a large population of seniors, the numbers are a little skewed.
A more disturbing ranking comes from the assessment of Floridaâ€™s resources for elder abuse. Of the 51 jurisdictions considered, Florida ranked 50th. The resources ranking was based on the total expenditures on elder-abuse prevention per senior citizen, the total expenditures on legal-assistance development per seniors and the total long-term care ombudsman program funding per senior. Florida ranked dead last (51st) for the total long-term care ombudsman program funding per senior.
With the expenditures on elder abuse prevention being so low, one might expect that resources devoted to elder abuse protection are equally low. This wasn’t the case, according to WalletHub’s analysis, Florida is in the lower half of the rankings for elder abuse protection expenditures at the 34th spot. The protection ranking was made up of many components, including the strength of financial elder-abuse laws, the number of eldercare organizations & services per senior, the number of Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen per senior, the frequency of assisted-living facilities inspections and more.
While the overall ranking for Florida was 34th (which isn’t great), there are specific areas for concern in some of the metrics used to determine the elder protection ranking. For example, Florida placed dead last (51st) for the number of eldercare organizations and services available to elder abuse victims. For more about nursing home abuse in Florida, check out this report from Steve Watrel, P.A.
As 2019 begins, attorney generals around the country are implementing new strategies to stop elder abuse before it happens and to make it easier for family members and residents to seek justice. Hopefully, these improvements will help Florida prevent elder abuse and protect seniors who have been the victim of abuse.
If you suspect that one of your family members may be the victim of elder abuse, contact the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. for a free consultation about the situation.