Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Issued a Proclamation last Friday declaring "International Elder Abuse Awareness Day" in the city.

Hoping to raise awareness about the critical issues of elder abuse, neglect and abuse prevention in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a proclamation last Friday declaring "International Elder Abuse Awareness Day" in the city.

As part of the effort to alert all Americans to the seriousness of this problem, the mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) joined with the city Department for the Aging (DFTA) in an educational conference to mark the day.

Entitled "Breaking Down Barriers, Addressing Financial Exploitation Through Partnerships", the conference, held at New School University Institute for Retired Professionals in Manhattan, was designed to help professionals from the legal, financial, medical and social work communities address the complex of problems and emerging issues related to elder abuse.

Among the topics addressed were effective interventions, challenges faced in identifying financially abused seniors, how to treat abusers and financial literacy.

In a release announcing the special day to raise awareness, the DFTA defined the problem as "encompassing several forms of mistreatment of older persons", including physical, emotional/psychological, and sexual abuse, as well as acts of exploitation, neglect and abandonment.

According to the most recent estimates, the DFTA said, "Between a million and two million Americans aged 65 or older have been injured, exploited or otherwise mistreated by someone they are dependent on for care or protection."

Because of the nature of elder abuse, its actual level of occurrence and prevalence is vastly under-reported, the DFTA said. Social isolation and mental impairment, such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease, are two factors that increase vulnerability to various forms of abuse.

DFTA, which sees approximately, 1,700 clients a year, said public education and awareness are important elements in preventing abuse and neglect, including educating older New Yorkers on how to recognize risk factors and providing them with information on resources available to them.

According to DFTAs Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center, it's estimated that only one in 14 victims of elder abuse

report the abuse to authorities. Almost 50 percent of the clients referred to the Resource Center are victims of financial abuse. In 2006, 11 percent (eight out of 71) of all family-related homicides involved a victim over the age of 59.

As part of International Elder Abuse Awareness Day in New York City, DFTA Commissioner Edwin Mendez-

Santiago stated: "Every year, thousands

of seniors suffer at the hands of abuse and unfortunately the abuse- in any of its many forms- is rarely reported to the police.

"Elder abuse is one of the city's most under-reported crimes and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day offers the city's two lead agencies the ability to spread the word about the services and educational opportunities available to older New Yorkers, caregivers and family members."

OCDV Commissioner Yolanda Jiminez stated: "Our city is working to help stop the cycle of violence and give a voice to older New Yorkers who are victims of this often unrecognized crime. By creating a strong network of dedicated community and government organizations that provide vital services to our most vulnerable residents, we are working to create safer, more livable conditions for all our residents."

Help for victims is available 24 hours a day by calling 911, 311 or the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800- 621-HOPE (4673). More information is also available at the OCDV Web site,

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