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Virtual activities planned for World Elder Abuse Awareness

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Tue, Jun 9th 2020 12:10 pm

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15. During the entire month of June, communities around the world work together to promote an understanding of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue.

The Western New York WEAAD campaign is a collaboration of New York State, Erie County District Attorney’s Office, City of Buffalo, Council on Elder Abuse, Live Well Erie County, and Center for Elder Law & Justice.

In keeping with social distancing practices, this year’s campaign is focused on digital efforts to promote awareness, with the theme of combatting isolation: “being together, while staying apart.”

The organizations are collaborating on a social media campaign throughout the month of June, and landmarks will be lit up in purple on Monday, including Buffalo City Hall, Sahlen Field, The Peace Bridge, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Niagara Falls, and the Reg Lenne Performing Arts Center in Jamestown, to name a few. Thanks to the collaboration of area Meals on Wheels locations, seniors will receive information about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, including resources available for services and support throughout the region.

The activities will culminate June 15 with a day-long “virtual press conference” beginning at 9 a.m. Videos will be shared using the hashtag #WEAAD2020, with scheduled remarks by:

  • New York State Attorney General Letitia James
  • New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes
  • New York State Assembly member Monica Wallace
  • New York State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan
  • New York State Sen. George M. Borello
  • New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs
  • U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York James P. Kennedy
  • Mayor of Buffalo Hon. Byron W. Brown
  • Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz
  • Erie County District Attorney John Flynn
  • Commissioner of Erie County Senior Services David Shenk
  • Commissioner of Erie County Social Services Marie Cannon
  • Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel
  • Director of the Office for the Aging, Chautauqua County, MaryAnn Spanos
  • Director of Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, Christine Schuyler
  • Deputy Commissioner, Adult, Child & Family Services, Chautauqua County, Leanna Luka-Conley
  • Karen Nicolson, CEO, Center for Elder Law & Justice

Nicolson said, “In normal times, isolation of older adults is a dangerous issue. Someone experiencing abuse may recede further into isolation, as feelings of shame or guilt prevent the victim from revealing the problem to others. These challenges are exacerbated by the current pandemic and orders of social distancing. We encourage people to check in on your loved ones and contact our office or your local adult protective services office if you believe someone may be a victim of abuse.”

“FeedMore WNY is committed to doing everything in our power to ensure our older neighbors are safe and well cared for,” said Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY. “We are proud to stand beside our friends at the Center for Elder Law & Justice to create awareness for elder abuse and help our older community members live independently and with dignity.”

Flynn said, "As we social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important to recognize that senior citizens in our community are more isolated due to the pandemic. An elderly person may become more lonely during this time, but also more susceptible to financial scams and other abuses. It is important that everyone recognize the signs of abuse and check in on their elderly relatives, friends and neighbors. The Erie County DA's office has a dedicated team of prosecutors who are committed to defending the most vulnerable members of our community and working to get them the justice they deserve. I advise anyone who has been a victim, whether it be financial or another crime, to call my office."

Gallivan said, "Now, more than ever, our community must work together to ensure our seniors are safe and secure. We have to let them know that we care about them and that help is available. Organizations like the Center for Elder Law and Justice, government agencies, law enforcement, families and individuals all have an important role to play in protecting our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors. Today and every day we honor our seniors by letting them know they are never alone.”

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said, “We are experiencing new and different times with a virus that is infecting millions and attack those who are most vulnerable. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to protect the elderly and ensure their safety. Family, friends, neighbors and the community, as a whole, need to pay extra attention to our elderly and protect those who once protected us. I urge everyone to communicate with their loved ones, ask them questions, check their physical appearance, and report anything different in the person’s appearance, attitude, or demeanor. These are signs, that if reported early, can prevent further abuse.”

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