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State expands efforts to combat elder abuse

Lifespan, the Monroe County based organization that provides services to older adults and caregivers, will help coordinate an expanded statewide effort to combat elder abuse.

Governor Andrew Cuomo this week announced $8.4 million in state and federal funding to help provide those services, and the NYS Office for the Aging is partnering with Lifespan  and Weill Cornell Medicine’s NYC Elder Abuse Center to help distribute and manage the funding through September of 2020.

Art Mason is the director for Lifespan’s Upstate Elder Abuse Center. He says the funding will help target what is a growing problem across the state.

“(It) allows us to bring together and really operationalize analyze cases, especially of financial exploitation, which often co-occur with other types of elder abuse such as physical abuse, verbal abuse and others in the community.”

Mason says when it comes to the financial abuse of seniors, there is more of a problem coming from people they know, than from outside scams.

“Much more money is stolen, misappropriated from family members and trusted individuals of the older adult than by strangers. But we hear a lot more about scams, we hear about phone scams or internet scams, much, much more.”

Mason says one reason that elder abuse is getting worse is due to demographic factors, as more baby boomers move into the ranks of seniors.  He says that New York State has the 4th largest number of older adults in the country.

The new push to help vulnerable seniors will get help from nearly two dozen teams around the state. Those teams consist of professionals in various disciplines including aging services, health care and criminal justice.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.