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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

NYC’s 11th Annual Elder Abuse Conference Teaches Professionals To Identify and Address an Often-Hidden Crime

Press Release – NEW YORK, NY – June 16, 2016 — Nearly 400 professionals, caregivers, concerned citizens, and policy makers gathered yesterday at The New School in Manhattan for a day-long conference to share their insights and to learn more about the often unreported crime of elder abuse at the 11th Annual NYC Elder Abuse Conference: Promoting Awareness + Taking Action. The program focused on raising awareness about the issue, and ensuring that professionals who serve the senior community are well-equipped to identify abuse and assist the most vulnerable and isolated older adults.

According to recent estimates, 9 percent of New York’s seniors, aged 60 and older, routinely suffer abuse during a one-year period, often at the hand of a family member. JASA, one of New York’s largest and most trusted non-profit agencies serving more than 43,000 older adults in the New York metropolitan area each year, is one of 12 organizations who came together, during the United Nations’-designated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, seeking to change those statistics.

“For over a decade now, JASA and our co-sponsors have educated and trained thousands through this annual conference. It takes a collaborative and coordinated effort between community-based social service organizations, government agencies, professionals, and all New Yorkers to identify, address, and combat this underreported epidemic,” stated Kathryn Haslanger, Chief Executive Officer for JASA. “With New York’s older adult population projected to rise 44.2 percent by 2030, the need for education and action on this issue grows more urgent every day.”

In addition to JASA, the conference partners included: the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College, Be the Evidence, Carter Burden Center for the Aging, David Berg Center for Law and Aging, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, LiveOn NY, New School Institute for Retired Professionals, New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA), New York City Elder Abuse Center, and New York City Human Resources Administration/ Department of Social Services.

“DFTA is pleased to be among the organizations partnering on this annual conference to raise professional and public awareness. We need to work together to combat elder abuse,” commented DFTA Commissioner Donna Corrado. “World Elder Abuse Day highlights the universality of the problem.”

Attendance at the conference was higher than ever before, which organizers attributed to growing awareness of the problem. Sessions ran throughout the day and addressed a wide range of topics including: the role of the courts and the challenges of prosecuting elder abuse cases; identifying suicide risk factors for victims of elder abuse; identifying and addressing types of mortgage and real estate scams that target older homeowners; and working with elder abuse victims who suffer from dementia. The keynote address for the day was delivered by Philip C. Marshall, a recognized elder justice advocate, who, as the grandson of socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor, brought his grandmother’s abuse to light, which was an experience that led him to dedicate his life to raising awareness about elder abuse and elder justice.

A recurring theme across all speakers and sessions was the need for a collaborative approach to identify and address the issue for the sake of the victims as well as for concerned family and friends who seek to help vulnerable elders. In a lively opening discussion led by moderator Geoff Rogers, Director of Learning, Brookdale Institute of Healthy Aging of Hunter College, panelists, including, Dianne Woodburn, Esq. JASA’s Supervising Attorney for Legal Services for the Elderly, Rima Rivera, LMSW, Director of NYC Adult Protective Services Central Intake Unit, Nancy Needell, MD, Board Certified Geriatric Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Weill-Cornell’s Mobile Crisis Team, and Philip Marshall, MS, elder justice advocate, deconstructed a complicated case of apparent abuse. The conversation highlighted the difficulties in proving what they suspected. The panel showcased the complexity of the issue and underscored the need for a coordinated approach to identify and confirm victimization.

With New York City’s senior population estimated to be 1.4 million, Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed the importance of this conference to city residents.

“We have a responsibility to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of all our residents and that includes the thousands of NYC seniors affected by elder abuse,” the Mayor said. “I applaud the United Nations, our City’s Department for the Aging, and all those participating in today’s conference for their commitment to supporting our city’s seniors and putting an end to elder abuse. I look forward to this event developing solutions so that we can identify and prevent any more vulnerable older individuals from being neglected, abused or exploited.”

About JASA

Founded in 1968, JASA is one of New York’s largest and most trusted non-profit agencies serving older adults. JASA’s comprehensive services are carefully designed to meet the complex needs of adults as they age. JASA enables seniors to live safely in their own homes and communities with independence, dignity, and joy.

JASA has been an innovative leader in the field of elder abuse for over 20 years. JASA’s Legal Social Work Elder Abuse Program (LEAP) teams of attorneys and social workers assisted 600 victims of abuse last year. Hundreds of professionals, gatekeepers, government personnel, and community members are trained through their Elder Abuse Training Institute, conference, and targeted workshops.

About Department for the Aging

DFTA funds programs that help victims regain their dignity and quality of life in every borough. The agency’s recent subway and bus ad campaign riveted attention with its portraits of elders abused by their loved ones and educated New Yorkers to call 311 to be connected to elder abuse services.

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