Submitted by the Center for Elder Law & Justice
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15 and, 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, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Buffalo, the Erie County Council on Elder Abuse, Live Well Erie County, and Center for Elder Law & Justice.
The theme of the campaign will build upon last year’s “Reach Out, Speak Out,” by emphasizing the work and accomplishments of older adults who have laid the foundation for our local communities. The partner organizations involved are making a concerted effort to highlight the issue of elder abuse, and what resources are available to older adults. Thanks to Meals on Wheels and FeedMore of WNY, information will be included in meal deliveries during the month of June.
“Caring Cards” are being collected from area school children to share with seniors at various locations. Any school or other organization that would like to participate in the “Caring Cards Challenge” can do so year-round by contacting the Center for Elder Law & Justice. The organizations are also collaborating on a social media campaign throughout the month of June, and landmarks will be lit up in purple on June 15, including Buffalo City Hall, Sahlen Field, The Peace Bridge and Niagara Falls, to name a few.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said, “We have a dedicated team of prosecutors in Erie County who are committed to serving, protecting and obtaining justice for the most vulnerable members of our community. No one, especially senior citizens, should be afraid or embarrassed to come forward about being the victim of a crime. By reporting a crime or scam, you allow law enforcement to investigate and potentially stop these criminals from harming someone else. I want older adults to know that their wellbeing is important and that their testimony is essential in order to obtain a successful conviction. I encourage everyone to check on their elderly family members, friends and neighbors … and urge you to call my office if you suspect that someone has been the victim of a scam, abuse or other crime.”
Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns said, “It is reported that, each year in the United States, an estimated 5 million senior citizens experience some form of elder abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional, neglect or financial abuse. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we raise the visibility of abuse of our senior citizen population in order to recognize, prevent and report these abuses. We all need to work collectively to build support and workable systems that reduce the risk of elder abuse. Those systems must promote the promote dignity, respect and safety of the elder community. Vulnerable adults have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. They have the right to make their own choices. They have the right to be safe.
“If we reach out, we can speak out – to raise awareness and eliminate elder abuse around the world and right here in our own community.”
New York State Sen. Patrick Gallivan said, “Seniors and older adults play an active role in our community and deserve our support and respect. That includes ensuring programs and services are in place to identify abuse and ways to prevent it. Our elders and those who care for them must know that they are not alone and that resources are available to assist victims of physical, emotional and financial abuse. I thank the Center for Elder Law and Justice and the other agencies and organizations here today for their valuable work in this area.”
Assembly member Karen McMahon said, "Abuse against elders is an all-too-common crime, and one which is uncommonly reported. Abusers prey on the elderly because of their vulnerability, but also because many seniors aren't aware of the resources available to help in such situations. That is why I'm proud to stand by my colleagues and elder rights advocates to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Today we sound the alarm about this disturbingly common crime, and make sure those impacted are aware of the groups and programs that are there for their support.”
Assembly member Jon D. Rivera said, “Elder abuse is a preeminent threat to the elderly populations in our communities – one which does not get nearly enough spotlight. Any act of abuse that causes harm or distress to an older person constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, abandonment or neglect. It can have serious physical and mental health consequences, and can lead to depression, cognitive decline and even premature mortality. The National Council on Aging estimates that approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 or older have experienced some form of elder abuse.
“I am proud to have hosted several events in the past with the Center for Elder Law & Justice, and I want to thank all of the nonprofits and organizations locally that are highlighting the prevalence of this issue in light of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and connecting older adults to the resources they desperately need.”
Center for Elder Law & Justice CEO Karen Nicolson said, “Once again, we are happy to have the support of so many leaders and partners in our region to bring attention to the issue of elder abuse. At CELJ, we have been witness to the incredible rise of abuse since the onset of the pandemic, in particular the recent rise in scam activity. The more people know about the red flags of abuse, and tips for prevention, the better outcomes we can have for our area’s vulnerable older adults.”
The Center for Elder Law & Justice, a member of the Erie County Council on Elder Abuse, is proud to partner with these local agencies and organizations to bring awareness to this important issue.
At CELJ, we advocate for justice at all stages of life to ensure that our clients may live independently and with dignity.
CELJ is a nonprofit civil legal services agency in Western New York offering full representation to older adults in nine counties and a Free Senior Legal Advice Helpline statewide. CELJ’s main office is located in Buffalo, and we have satellite offices in Niagara and Chautauqua counties, as well as medical-legal partnerships at area hospitals. Since 1978, our team of lawyers, paralegals and social workers has provided comprehensive free legal services to the community’s seniors, individuals with disabilities, and financially eligible population. We serve as guardian for court-appointed older adults and people with disabilities, most of whom experienced abuse in the past. We are a trustee for WNY Coalition Pooled Trusts, which takes individuals out of the cycle of poverty by allowing them to live in the community and maintain a comfortable quality of life.