Ask the DA: When elderly relatives are exploited

September 6, 2012 By Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes
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What can I do to if I suspect an elderly relative is being taken advantage of?


It is a sad but unfortunate fact that senior citizens are often the targets of fraud and financial and physical abuse.  It is important that seniors be aware that elder abuse does not involve only acts of physical violence, but also threats and intimidation.  Their declining health and limited mobility make seniors especially vulnerable to exploitation. It is equally disturbing that senior citizens are often victimized by their own children, grandchildren, or other relatives in their households.
Unfortunately, many cases of elder abuse go unreported. Seniors might not be aware they are being victimized; they might be afraid to report it; or in some cases they do not want to be responsible for an arrest of a family member.  

If you or someone you know suspects an elderly person is being physically abused or taken advantage of financially, here are some proactive steps my office suggests you take:

1. Notify the police and report any suspected abuse to your local precinct.

2. Contact Adult Protective Services (APS). APS is a city agency which works to protect the elderly and those who cannot take care of themselves. Once contacted, APS will launch an investigation and take appropriate measures to resolve any risks which have been identified. For further information, call 311 or the APS Central Registry at 212-630-1853.

3. Come to the DA’s Action Center. At the DA’s Action Center, you will speak to a counselor who is trained to assist you.  Based on the information you provide, you may be referred to an outside agency, or your complaint may be referred to the appropriate bureau within the DA’s office, such as the Elder Abuse Unit.  Call 718-250-2340 for more information. You can also visit or call one of my Neighborhood Offices (to find the one nearest you, call 718-250-2555).

In 1999, I created an Elder Abuse Unit in my office to respond to the growing number of elder abuse cases reported in Brooklyn.  Since its inception, the Elder Abuse Unit has prosecuted 200 to 300 cases a year.  In addition, my assistant district attorneys regularly visit senior centers to educate the elderly on crime prevention strategies.

My office takes elder abuse very seriously, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

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