93-Year-Old Woman Spends 2 Nights In Jail After Eviction From Senior Housing

Florida authorities released an elderly woman from jail on Thursday after police arrested her when she allegedly refused to leave her home in a senior housing community after being evicted.

Juanita Fitzgerald spent her 94th birthday Friday in a motel room, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The day before, she had been released from Florida’s Lake County Jail, which is where police took her after she was evicted from her home at the National Church Residences’ Franklin House in Eustis. The facility accused her of refusing to leave.

Clad in an orange jumpsuit, Fitzgerald told WFTV reporters earlier this week that she did not understand why she was being evicted. She had lived there since 2011.

Bodycam footage from the arrest showed her screaming and sliding to the ground in an apparent attempt to avoid being taken away. A police report obtained by The Miami Herald noted that Fitzgerald had told officers, “Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere.”

Franklin House spokeswoman Karen Twinem told the Sentinel that Fitzgerald was evicted “based on her refusal to pay rent” and that the complex had been trying to work with Fitzgerald “for months” to “get her to agree to get more help so she could live in a situation that was more suitable.”

Fitzgerald countered that she had previously attempted to pay rent that the facility rejected, though Twinem has said Fitzgerald only presented a partial rent payment.

The police report stated that Fitzgerald was transported to jail without handcuffs because of her age. However, she can be seen wearing handcuffs and ankle restraints at the jail in an on-camera interview with WCMH-TV. Her wrists and forearms appear deeply bruised.

After her release, she showed the Sentinel bruises and scratches on her ankles that she said were from the prison shackles. A jail spokeswoman told the site that it was typical for inmates to wear restraints, but could not confirm anything specifically about Fitzgerald’s situation.

Fitzgerald was released from jail on her own recognizance on Thursday. Since then, she’s been meeting with the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition to find permanent housing.

This story has been updated to note that Fitzgerald can be seen on camera wearing restraints at the jail.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Fitzgerald was arrested for allegedly refusing to pay rent. She was arrested for allegedly refusing to leave her home when she was evicted.

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Review The Agency Checklist

One of the first decisions in choosing an elderly caregiver is deciding whether to <a href="http://www.caring.com/articles/hiring-independently-or-via-agency" target="_hplink">interview independent candidates or look to a caregiving agency</a>, according to Caring.com. If you choose the later, it's best to choose a leading national or regional chain that is well known for it's professionalism and training. Run through a caregiving checklist, such as The Caregiver Partnership's <a href="http://blog.caregiverpartnership.com/2011/03/how-to-choose-senior-home-care-agency.html" target="_hplink">10 important caregiver criteria</a>, which covers specific needs including language requirements, memory care, nutrition needs and transportation, or ask the <a href="http://blog.aarp.org/2012/07/11/dangerous-caregivers-few-agencies-screen-workers/" target="_hplink">10 crucial questions proposed by Lee Lindquist</a> of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Set Clear Expectations

Before interviewing a caregiver candidate <a href="http://www.caring.com/articles/at-home-caregiver-expectations" target="_hplink">set clear job expectations</a> and tailor interview questions to assess the candidate's experience carrying out tasks that will be required, Caring.com recommends. Inside Elder Care suggests <a href="http://www.insideeldercare.com/caregiving/how-to-choose-a-caregiver/" target="_hplink">creating a timeline of daily activities</a> so the potential caregiver will be fully aware and prepared for any and all day-to-day duties.

Include Patient In Interview

When looking for someone to care for your parent day in and day out it's best to <a href="http://www.caring.com/articles/finding-at-home-caregiver" target="_hplink">include your senior in the interview</a> process, according to Caring.com.    "Having shared interests can make a big difference," Jacqueline Dollar, a geriatric care manager, said. "One of my clients loved NASCAR and found a home health aide who did, too. They immediately hit it off."

Assess The Degree Of Speciality

Make sure your parents receive the appropriate amount of care by <a href="http://www.insideeldercare.com/caregiving/how-to-choose-a-caregiver/" target="_hplink">assessing the caregiver's degree of speciality</a>, Inside Elder Care recommends. If the patient requires special treatment for a particular ailment, make sure that the caregiving candidate is properly trained and well versed in that area.

Ask For References

Whether you choose an agency or not, checking into a caregiver's background is a must. Asking for references can provide insight into the caregiver's past experience and training. Conducting an <a href="http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/01/27/caregiver-background-checks-rising-as-millions-of-us-adults-care-for-aging-parents/" target="_hplink">independent background check</a> may also be useful to ensure that a caregiver is properly vetted.

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