State leaders and community agencies are coming together to protect seniors from abuse. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo proclaimed June 15th as Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Vince Briga explains the new challenges that lie ahead for our aging population.
ENDWELL, N.Y. – Senior agencies throughout the Southern Tier are seeing a rise in elder abuse.
Family members are reported to be exploiting money or even physically abusing their loved ones.
"They are committing these acts and they know they're doing it and they're trying to find new ways that are more efficient, whether it's a family member or if it's someone from the community," said Rebecca Bradley, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Coordinator.
As a result, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is teaming with local agencies to encourage seniors to reach out if they experience any type of abuse.
"When we do educational programs, they'll say I know somebody that that happened to and so when they know this is who we call, it empowers them to deal with the situation," said Janette Cyganovich, Broome County Family Violence Prevention Council Coordinator.
There are an estimated 5 million cases of elder abuse that happen every year nationwide but only 15% get reported for a variety of different reasons.
"Many seniors we find are simply embarrassed to speak up. They feel they are either dependent on the person who may be abusing them or they are embarrassed to admit they've gotten themselves into this situation," said Donna Lupardo, (D) Assembly – Endwell.
Experts say preventing this abuse all starts with finding the proper power of attorney, even if it isn't a family member.
"If they're more concerned about your spending habits as far as well what if you spend too much on this or that, it can be a concern as to why they're wondering where all the money went," said Bradley.
Officials hope reaching out to seniors will help drastically cut down on the number of abuse cases.
The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that seniors lose more than $2.5 billion each year through exploitation.