Assemblymember Cymbrowitz hails signing of bill mandating NYS to conduct elder abuse public education campaign
With a shocking number of seniors suffering from physical, psychological, sexual or financial elder abuse that goes unreported every year in New York state, Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) is commending the governor’s signing of legislation he sponsored (A.9143-A) that will require the State Office for the Aging, in consultation with the Office of Children and Family Services, to conduct a public education campaign to raise awareness about elder abuse.
According to a comprehensive study done by the senior advocacy organization LiveOn NY, about 260,000 older adults each year are the victims of some form of elder abuse, and this number is rising. Only one out of 24 of overall cases are reported to law enforcement, Adult Protective Services, medical or social services. Only one out of 44 financial abuse cases are reported, according to the study.
“There are many reasons why 85 percent of all elder abuse incidents fail to be reported to the authorities,” said Cymbrowitz, who chairs the Aging Committee. “While many people are aware of the problem, they may not know how to recognize the signs of elder abuse, especially when it manifests itself as financial exploitation and the physical signs are not there.
“Additionally, many of those who want to report suspected elder abuse do not know where to turn, and many seniors who feel they have been victimized may fear what will happen to them after an investigation is made,” he said.
In an estimated 60 percent of elder abuse cases, the perpetrator is an adult child or relative of the victim. Almost half of victims have a physical impairment and one-third have cognitive impairment or dementia.
Cymbrowitz’s legislation calls for a multimedia public education campaign that will provide information on the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, where people can report suspected elder abuse and contact information for relevant programs and services.
“This information has the potential to save lives and spare many thousands of seniors the danger and heartache of physical, emotional and financial exploitation,” Cymbrowitz said.
A 2016 report issued by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services indicates that financial exploitation of seniors in New York state costs victims and the state as much as $1.5 billion each year. The cost of exploitation includes stolen cash, checks, debit cards, benefits checks, deeds, property, retirement accounts and vehicles as well as state investigative costs.
State Sen. Sue Serino (R-Hyde Park) was the Senate sponsor.
—Information from Assemblymember Steve Cymbrowitz’s office
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