Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Senator Schumer Wants to Protect Elders

By Jessica Wasmund jwasmund@post-journal.com

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, is working on legislation against what he considers one of the greatest problems plaguing senior citizens.

‘‘For too long (this problem) has stayed hidden in the shadows and out of the public eye, and it’s called elder abuse,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘It comes in many different forms: from senior citizens suffering from neglect at the hand of a caregiver or financial exploitation where seniors are conned out of their life savings or property. These despicable acts jeopardize senior citizens, and what’s most disturbing is right now we’re seeing way too many cases across Upstate New York.’’
Schumer said there is a lack of attention being paid to the issue, as well as a lack of federal safeguards in place to protect America’s senior citizens.

‘‘Elder abuse has been swept under the rug for too long,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘Now with the baby boom generation growing older, we’re going to see an unfortunate spike in the number of senior citizens subject to financial or physical abuse. Senior citizens across the state should have comprehensive assistance if they were scammed out of their savings or have their healthcare jeopardized by negligent caretakers. Right now these victimized seniors too often go unidentified.’’

In response to the number of abuse cases, Schumer said he is pushing for quick passage of the Elder Justice Act, which he co-sponsors.

Elder abuse is defined as the intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk to a vulnerable adult. It can include instances where a senior citizen is threatened by an individual through physical pain or injury or deprived of a basic need.

‘‘It can also include financial exploitation, which is unfortunately the most prevalent,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘There are hundreds of cases and what’s disturbing about the numbers is it’s the tip of the iceberg.’’

‘‘This is something we would be very much in support of,’’ Holt said. ‘‘I think calling attention to this issue through the bill and providing support to the elder community as indicated is a good thing. I would be supportive of it, and I think our profession is and should be supportive of it.’’

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