June 13, 2014

Emergency shelter network opens for victims of abuse


A new resource launched Friday to help seniors escape from domestic violence perpetrated by a spouse, partner, family member or caretaker.

The Elder Domestic Violence Shelter Network of Erie County includes a network of skilled-nursing facilities and assisted-living facilities that have agreed to provide temporary housing for victims facing violence in the home. The network launch was timed to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.

Both Absolut Care and the McGuire Group have agreed to provide temporary housing at their sites in partnership with the Council on Elder Abuse, the Crisis Services advocate program and Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of WNY Inc. The nonprofit groups will also provide support and resources to victims.

“Older adults should be able to enjoy their golden years and should never suffer abuse at the hands of caretakers, or others,” said Karen Nicholson, CEO at Legal Services for the Elderly. “The shelter is an important tool that will help us combat this horrible crime.”

Crisis Services has employed a case manager since 1999 dedicated to working with elder abuse victims; while the Council on Elder Abuse has provided education to seniors and senior services agencies since 2000. Members include law enforcement, the Erie County District Attorney’s office, Erie County agencies and senior service providers.

The need is staggering: According to the Erie County Sheriff, there are over 1,500 reported cases of elder abuse, though it’s suspected that far more go unreported. One study found that just 5 percent of victims ever report the abuse.

Types of abuse include physical, emotional, sexual, neglect and financial. The most prevalent type of reported abuse is financial exploitation: According to a 2011 MetLife study of Elder Financial Abuse, the total annual loss to victims was estimated to be $2.8 billion, a 12 percent increase from 2008.

Funding for the elder shelter network includes grants from the state Department of Criminal Justice Services and the NYS Bar Foundation.

Additional information and a screening tool to determine if abuse is taking place can be found here.