Elder Abuse: The Crisis for New York City's Older Population
Elder Abuse: The Crisis for New York City's Older Population [Photo: Diego Torres Silvestre, flickr]
The total number of victims of elder abuse is now larger than child abuse and domestic violence victims combined. This prevalent issue often doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Elder abuse presents unique problems because it often involves complicated family issues. Bobbie Sackman is the director of Public Policy at the advocacy group, Live-On New York. She understands why elder abuse can be difficult to understand.
"You say to somebody, 'Would you ever steal money from your mother or father?' and a lot of people would say, 'of course not.' And yet that's what happens," Sackman said.
Financial abuse is the most prevalent form of abuse, but it's not the only one. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are often prominent. Neglect also becomes a problem particularly with clients who might be suffering from dementia. For the advocates on the front lines, it's not easy to respond to this crime. Bianca Roman is a licensed social worker at the Jewish Association Service for the Aging or JASA. She sees the victims on a daily basis.
"It is disgustingly difficult. It's hard to listen to these stories and not bring them back into my personal life, but I find it extraordinarily rewarding," Roman said.
The advocates have to fight with abusers on a daily basis, but they also have to fight with the City for their annual budget. Donna Dougherty's the director of the legal services for JASA. She says their current budget is not nearly enough.
"If there is, right now, the funding last year was 1.6 million. That funding, which is great, compared to the problem is a drop in the bucket," Dougherty said.
The advocates not only want to increase their funding. They want to make their current budget a permanent part of the city's spending plan.