Working together to end elder abuse



An older woman was sitting in her south Brooklyn home a few months ago when the phone rang. The person on the other end of the phone told her that she could finally get her computer fixed. All she had to do was print out a form with instructions on how to pay. She then took it to her local bank where she asked the cashier to wire a five-figure amount to a guy in Thailand. The cashier said it just wasn’t possible, so she went to a more helpful branch nearby. She sent the extra money the next day, but there was no computer repair coming up – certainly not a repair worth the $ 50,000 she had wired. It took a little while for her to realize it, according to Brooklyn Senator Roxanne Persaud, who relayed her story to City & State. All her staff could do at this point was help the woman secure her financial information.

The incident occurred to him in the early spring when Persaud learned of a bill that would make it easier to help people like his elderly voter. Identity thieves have snooked many other people. Other seniors have been victimized physically, mentally or financially by their own parents. This problem has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic with many older people stuck behind closed doors. It can be difficult to identify signs of abuse, but a new state law could make it easier for local and state authorities to investigate cases and bring perpetrators to justice using these things. wacky called elder abuse has strengthened multidisciplinary teams.

The Basic idea was to bring together people from government agencies, nonprofit social service organizations, police departments and other entities to investigate a case rather than having them work individually. Hospitals and child welfare agencies are examples of places where such teams have been deployed for years, but state laws have blocked how they can tackle cases of elder abuse. A hypothetical example could be how a bank serving this south Brooklyn woman might not be legally allowed to tell law enforcement that she suspected a guy in Thailand had stolen money from her. thousands of dollars. A strengthened multidisciplinary team might be able to bring together hospital staff and a sheriff’s deputy to discuss how someone with a criminal history might abuse their aging relative. The bill enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 1 reduced legal barriers to such cooperation. “It removes any kind of ambiguity about which agencies are sharing information, so it’s a smoother process,” Bill Ferris, state legislative representative for AARP, said in an interview.

A wide variety of data highlights how elder abuse has worsened over the past two years. One in 10 adults over the age of 60 experiences some form of abuse, of federal officials said in 2018. A May 2020 study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital found that double-digit percentage increases in elder abuse were possible in New York City based on past disasters. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen an increase in reports of elder abuse, which has raised alarm bells about the need for legislation that better responds to cases of abuse,” Katelyn Andrews, Director policy at LiveOn NY, which is a membership organization representing 100 high-level groups, said in a june press release supporting legislation. That’s a lot of people in a state of 20 million, especially given the dramatic aging of the Empire State’s population and how long social distancing restrictions have been in place. That is why the State Bureau for Aging drafted the bill and called on legislative leaders to pass it as soon as possible, a spokesperson for the office confirmed to City & State.

Persaud, who chairs the state Senate Committee on Social Services, said she volunteered to sponsor the bill and approached Assembly Member Catalina Cruz of Queens to present the bill. law in his room. “(COVID-19) has brought out some really ugly things,” she said in an interview. “When it comes to older people, especially in communities of color, you have people (like in) my neighborhood who are often the targets of these crimes by people they love.” Advocacy groups like LiveOn NY and AARP threw their political weight behind the bill, which was passed by both the Senate and the State Assembly before the scheduled last day of the June 10 legislative session. It was a pretty quick pace in a State Capitol rocked by a litany of governor scandals and more than a little internal quarrel among Democrats.

This legislation was passed unanimously by the State Senate, as were other bills targeting elder abuse with a long list of laws affecting the elderly. While the Assembly did not pass all of them, it passed the bill to help the State Office for Aging expand the reinforced multidisciplinary team it was established years ago while reducing the bureaucratic quagmire for local governments to investigate elder abuse in their jurisdictions. “The team is breaking down the silos that too often make (a) responding more difficult and by sharing resources (to) overcome the limitations that may exist within any partner responding independently,” said Marc Molinaro, director of Dutchess County, a Republican who is president of the New York State County Executives Association, said in a statement. “The team really amplifies our ability to prevent and respond more successfully to abuse and exploitation.” So add elder abuse to the seemingly short list of issues Republicans and Democrats can still work on together.

The big question for the future is how strengthened multidisciplinary teams might tackle elder abuse like the one that plagued this elderly woman from south Brooklyn a few months ago. Raising public awareness of the problem will be essential, according to Persaud, so that more bank tellers, medical professionals and others can identify potential cases and refer them to the appropriate authorities. A strengthened multidisciplinary team should be able to take things from there. While not much can be done at this point to help this woman recover the money she lost, many of her peers could be saved in the future. Additional benefits could be proven over time, according to Persaud. “It will deter some of these unscrupulous people from targeting the elderly,” she said. Thus, these teams might be able to score serious points against long-term elder abuse. Not bad for a relatively short bill that became law with fanfare and without controversy months ago.



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