Introducing the North Central Florida Senior Advocacy Network
As an attorney advocating daily for the rights of our aging adults, I often utilize the programs of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs through Elder Options, the ombudsman program and various other programs supported by this state department. The services they provide make a significant impact on a group of aging adults who may fall through the cracks based on income and assessability.
The mission of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs is to help Florida’s aging adults remain healthy, safe, and independent. The Department works through our state’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging to deliver services and programs that reduce the need for many aging adults to be placed in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities-representing the highest priority of the Department.
Ultimately, the goal is to efficiently use resources to ensure that the greatest number of elders possible get to spend their golden years living healthy, active, and fulfilling lives in their communities.
A Collaboration Has Begun In Florida
I am deeply committed to working on advocacy, education, and legislation to enhance the lives of all aging adults and adults with disabilities. It is with great honor that I have accepted a position as a stakeholder representing elder law attorneys for the North Central Florida Senior Advocacy Network. I am a founding member of this network funded by the Older Americans Act through a grant called Model Approaches of the Department of Elder Affairs. The main purpose of the North Central Florida Senior Advocacy Network is to end the exploitation of the elderly through community collaboration.
The primary intent of this collaboration is to develop projects designed to provide vulnerable aging adults with greater access to civil legal services. The project will target low-income individuals over age 60 or adults with disabilities who are at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Other stakeholders in this project are Elder Options, University of Florida, Alachua County Victim Services, Long-term Care Ombudsman for the State of Florida, Three Rivers Legal Services, Oak Hammock, Florida Legal Services Helpline, Seniors Vs. Crimes, Bill Cervone, State Attorney 8th Circuit, Sade Darnell, Sheriff, Tony Jones, GPD Chief, and Adult Protective Services.
The quarterly meeting held in July focused on shaping the vision of the Network, identifying collaborations available and the coordination of those resources, and educating the stakeholders on the new exploitation law; aging adults are vulnerable to this type of abuse by family members and caregivers.
I presented an overview of the new exploitation law effective in Oct. 2015 to bring all stakeholders up to date with significant changes and what they mean to attorneys, clients, and community resources. This new statute redefines exploitation and expands the criminalization of financial exploitation of the elderly allow significantly more prosecutions and stiffer penalties for those convicted. Read more about the law here.
I will continue to be involved in state-wide initiatives that benefit aging adults in Florida and will keep you up to date with Network activities that will serve all of us advocating for them.
A cutting edge proposal for new state legislation will be publicized soon as a new tool to STOP EXPLOITATION! Once again, we hope Florida will set the standard for protecting aging adults, our most vulnerable citizens. Stay tuned. Shannon Miller
How The Miller Elder Law Firm Can Help