After gaining approval in both the Senate and Assembly, a bill which authorizes state agencies to conduct a public campaign to draw attention to elder abuse has just hit the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Under the bill, the State Office for the Aging and the Office of Children and Family Services would collaborate on a public education campaign focusing on zero tolerance for elder abuse, according to state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a member of the Committee on Aging. Educational materials would be created to help identify the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, inform people of where and how to report the crime, and provide details about existing programs designed to provide assistance for victims. Public outreach would include printed materials, as well as audio, video, and electronic media and public service announcements.
Addabbo also cited a 2011 study commissioned by OCFS that found that an estimated 260,000 older adults in New York State had been the victims of at least one form of elder abuse in the
preceding year, and that elder abuse is often significantly underreported to law enforcement, adult protective services, and other agencies charged with protecting senior citizens from harm.
One National Research Council study estimated that only one in every 14 cases of elder abuse comes to the attention of the proper authorities.
“This legislation, by bringing more information about this terrible abuse to the attention of the public, will help to ensure that people are better able to recognize the signs of the problem and to intervene on behalf of vulnerable older New Yorkers,” Addabbo added. “Education and public awareness are key to identifying problems facing our seniors and in taking steps to address their worries and concerns.”
By Forum Staff