Senior citizens are vulnerable to abuse, not only of their physical selves but also of their life's savings. This morning in Amherst, partners in a newly formed task force announced their mission to provide elderly individuals with assistance in cases of financial abuse and exploitation.
The model is called an Enhanced Multi-Disciplinary Team. It will
bring public and private agencies together to provide senior citizens
with the resources and assistance to investigate suspected financial
exploitation, recover assets and, if it's deemed appropriate, prosecute
provides our senior citizens with a mechanism to come forward if they
believe they've been a victim of financial abuse, if they've been
robbed, if they've been embezzled from. Whatever the case may be," said
District Attorney John Flynn.
Getting seniors to come forward is a significant challenge. Lifespan of Greater Rochester,
which is providing funds to acquire an accountant and geriatric
psychiatrist for Erie County's task force, conducted a recent in
partnership with Cornell University and reported alarming numbers about
elderly abuse cases.
"Two hundred and sixty thousand adults in
New York State will be abused this year," said Ann Marie Cook, CEO of
Lifespan of Greater Rochester. "Only one in 24 cases will ever get
reported to any authority. The most prevalent form of abuse is financial
The vast majority of perpetrators, advocates say,
are family members. The reasons may range from needing money for drug
purchases to a sense of entitlement. Karen Nicolson, CEO of the Center
for Elder Law & Justice, spoke of the complicated emotions many
seniors face when exploited by relatives.
Another challenge is
overcoming those who will challenge whether the elderly victim should be
taken seriously when they complain. Among the tricks exploiters will
use is trying to convince authorities that their elderly relative lacks
credibility because of a mental or physical condition.
"The perpetrators of these crimes are very savvy," Nicolson said. "They will actually use that to their advantage."
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New task force aims to protect seniors from financial abuse and exploitation