DA Flynn Joins Local Leaders To Stop Elder Abuse

Modified: June 6, 2017 10:25am

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Hundreds of cards from the community will be distributed to the elderly across Erie County.


Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, District Attorney John Flynn, Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Member Monica Wallace, Sheriff Timothy Howard, Karen Nicolson, CEO of Center for Elder Law & Justice and a representative from Senator Patrick Gallivan’s office announced the launch of June’s “Elder Abuse Awareness Month” in Erie County. They joined other advocates and community partners at the Erie County courthouse to draw attention to a serious social issue that includes an increase in the number of cases involving abuse of local senior citizens. The announcement kicks off a month of community education and events aimed at preventing elder abuse.


In 2016, Erie County Adult Protective Services reported receiving 1,600 reports of elder abuse, and it is estimated that only 1 in 24 cases is ever reported. Elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. It includes physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. Seniors who are at risk include those who are isolated, have experienced recent losses, are declining in physical and mental capacity, have increased dependency on caregivers and have family members with financial or substance abuse problems. 


The financial exploitation of seniors is on the rise. A recent report from New York’s Office of Children and Family Services indicates that in a year period, it was estimated that the monetary value of assets taken from seniors in the state ranged from a low of $352 million to a high of $1.5 billion. Last month, Center for Elder Law & Justice, Erie County APS, and District Attorney John Flynn announced a new task force aimed at improving the outcomes of elder financial abuse cases in Erie County.


For this year’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month, the group decided to focus on addressing senior isolation, which is often a factor in elder abuse cases.  Through an effort called the Caring Cards Challenge, the group is seeking to collect 3,000 cards, letters and pictures from the community, which will be delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients, homebound seniors and seniors who were subjected to abuse in the past. The deliveries will be made on June 15th, which is designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. 


Many schools, offices and individuals have joined in the Caring Cards Challenge. The group hopes that the project will encourage people to engage with seniors in their neighborhoods and communities, and look out for the signs of abuse. For those who wish to participate in the Caring Cards Challenge, more information can be found on Center for Elder Law & Justice’s website, elderjusticeny.org/weaad. Seniors and caregivers can get more information on community education events by visiting http://bit.ly/ErieWEAAD.


Both the Peace Bridge and Buffalo’s City Hall Dome will be illuminated purple on June 15th to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.


Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, “As a society, we have a responsibility to protect our senior citizens from abuse, whether it be physical, psychological or financial. While the number of crimes continues to rise, we also know that many more go unreported.  By raising awareness, we can help ensure that those who abuse and exploit citizens who cannot protect themselves are held accountable for their actions.  ”


“I commend the Center for Elder Law and Justice for bringing attention to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. As one of our most vulnerable populations, it is unfathomable for me to think that someone would prey on victimizing someone who could be the equivalent of their senior-aged parent or grandparent, yet it happens daily. I will continue to support policy measures that offer safety and security to our golden agers, whether it be housing, financial or legal protections,” stated Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes.


Assembly Member Monica Wallace said, “World Elder Abuse Day brings much needed attention to the challenges older adults in our community face. Too often, seniors are victimized by financial schemes, physical abuse, and intimidation due to their vulnerability and isolation. As a member of the Assembly Aging Committee, I keep a focus on assisting seniors in cases of abuse. I commend the work of the Center for Elder Law and Justice to combat the isolation that often leads to abuse.”


 “Elder abuse is a very serious issue that unfortunately is impacting vulnerable citizens within our community,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “It is truly hard to comprehend how anyone can target individuals who are an important part of our community and who have been there for us throughout their lives.”


“Too many of our seniors are being duped into giving away their hard-earned money and some are even losing their life-savings,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. “Our office is committed to defending these often defenseless members of our community against abuse, financial or physical and getting them the justice they deserve.”


“My office has a dedicated team within the Domestic Violence Unit to aid victims of elder abuse gain access to services and courts as well as educate seniors and family members of the signs of physical, sexual and financial abuse.” said Sheriff Timothy Howard.


Karen Nicolson, CEO of Center for Elder Law & Justice said, “We see many older adults come to our office who have been exploited or abused for years. These are heartbreaking cases, and it is vitally important that people in our community are involved in recognizing and stopping elder abuse.”


“Judges across New York State are confronted with elder abuse matters in every type of court, including criminal, civil, family, supreme and surrogate’s court.  We are committed to adjudicating these cases effectively and with sensitivity and innovation, while protecting the constitutional procedural rights of all who come before us,” said Judge Deborah Kaplan, Statewide Coordinating Judge for Family Violence Cases.



Where to go for help:

  • To report suspected abuse in the community, contact your local Adult Protective Services agency. The Erie County Adult Protective Services phone number is (716) 858-6877.
  • To report abuse or neglect in a nursing home or other facility, please contact the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Center at (518) 549-0200.
  • The Vulnerable Persons Central Register (VPCR) Hotline toll-free number is 1-855-373-2122.
  • The Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO), Domestic Violence Unit provides victims of domestic violence/elder abuse access to necessary services. For support and general information about domestic violence and elder abuse individuals can call the ECSO Domestic Violence Unit at (716) 858-7057.
  • Center for Elder Law & Justice provides free legal assistance to seniors in eight Western New York Counties. Their number is (716) 853-3087.