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July 2014 Column - Community approach needed for preventing elder abuse


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Thanks to a partnership between Albright Knox Art Gallery and Erie County, thousands of educational art kits are being delivered to local middle schools. On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo joined West Seneca East Middle...

Recently, several of my colleagues in the Erie County Legislature proposed a law that would impose term limits on all county elected officials.  The law allows for three four-year terms for the County Executive, Comptroller, Clerk, District...

Last year, the Legislature unanimously approved an additional $5 million to be spent specifically for infrastructure repair.  However, the County Executive opposed the additional spending, claiming the money could not be used in the 2014...

The Erie County Legislature’s Majority Leader, Joseph C. Lorigo, sent a letter to the County Executive asking for further explanation concerning his withdrawal of Carol Dankert-Maurer’s name as Mental Health Commissioner....

Like many of you, I awoke on Jan. 9 to some snow and blowing wind. It wasn’t anything we hadn’t dealt with before. For many of us, after the 7-foot Snovember storm, it seemed like nothing. Because of the conditions, the roads were a...

Recently, I read an article about the newly created Elder Domestic Violence Shelter Network of Erie County and noted a startling statistic: only 5 percent of elder abuse cases are reported. It is alarming to think how many of our elderly residents fall victim to various forms of abuse without any assistance. As a community, we have a responsibility to change that statistic.

A communitywide approach can help those who have been suffering in silence. To bring awareness to the serious and prolific issue of elder abuse, the creation of the Elder Domestic Violence Shelter Network of Erie Countywas announced on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This network is another tool available to our community to help address elder abuse and is the result of a collaboration between Crisis Services and Legal Services for the Elderly, as well as significant support from Absolut Care and the McGuire Group.

Trained professionals work with the network to help remove victims from a dangerous situation. Through the program, the McGuire Group and Absolut Care are providing shelter in their skilled nursing and assisted living facilities to victims of domestic or family violence whose medical conditions require professional care.

While many cases are unreported, the number of incidents filed locally is still significant. Erie County has 1,500 elder abuse cases reported annually, according to the Sheriff’s Office. This is clearly a complex issue, where not only do cases have to be identified, but also the proper assistance must be provided to known victims. Elderly residents are at risk of various forms of danger, from physical abuse to financial exploitation. Having this new network and other resources available, we can truly begin to help those who are currently being abused and also prevent future abuse cases.

For more information about the network, please visit www.councilonelderabuse.org. Together, we can be vigilant and help our own family members, friends and neighbors, or even a stranger. I am working with the senior centers throughout my district to promote the information involving this new service available to residents in need, as well as to discuss existing outreach services available. No victim should have to suffer alone. There is help available.

If you are a victim or are concerned that someone you know is being victimized, please contact authorities. Your local police department or the Erie County Sheriff’s Office can assist, as well as Erie County Adult Protection Services Division, available at 858-6877.

Additional support is available online, including www.preventelderabuse.org, which provides helpful information on where to get assistance and how to recognize abuse.

If you have any questions about obtaining help with elder abuse services or any other county issue, please contact my Legislative Office at 858-8922 or email joseph.lorigo@erie.gov.