Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, D-Irondequoit, was joined by advocates for the elderly as he announced legislation aimed at protecting senior citizens from abuse by caregivers.
Under current law, the term “caregiver” only applies to paid or court-ordered aides. Morelle’s bill expands that definition to include all individuals, including volunteers and family members, responsible for the health and well-being of an elderly person.
“Anyone who neglects, injures, defrauds or otherwise harms a senior entrusted to their care must face the consequences of their actions, and we must give law enforcement the tools to make that happen,” Morelle said.
“With this, we close a dangerous loophole that leaves far too many of our elderly vulnerable to abuse, a situation more common than the public may realize.”
Morelle said his bill is based in part on a recent study conducted by Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc., in conjunction with the New York City Department for the Aging and Cornell University. The report found that 141 out of 1,000 older New Yorkers have experienced abuse since turning age 60, and that nearly 90 percent of those responsible were not paid health care workers.
“The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence study Lifespan released in 2011 confirmed that elder abuse occurs in every neighborhood regardless of demographics. The study also confirmed that in the majority of abuse and financial exploitation cases, the perpetrators are family members, friends and neighbors – often, allegedly, helping to ‘care’ for the victim,” said Ann Marie Cook, Lifespan President and CEO.
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Morelle Announces Bill to Strengthen Legal Protections Against Elder Abuse in New York State