BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The vast majority of people who abuse older New Yorkers know their victim. And many of them are caretakers.
Those were among the staggering statistics released Tuesday by advocates for the elderly, as they kicked off a campaign aimed at highlighting and bringing to an end such abuse.
June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
Across the state, more than 260,000 older adults are victims of at least one form of abuse. For every one case of elder abuse that’s reported in New York state, 24 cases go unreported — so that number should be considered a lot higher, according to Karen Nicolson, CEO of Legal Services for the Elderly.
Nicolson said an estimated $36 billion is lost to financial exploitation of older adults every year across the country.
In Erie County, there were more than 1,600 cases of elderly abuse were investigated in 2015; More than 1,200 of those were assigned to be assessed. Of those, 320 were for financial exploitation, 82 were instances of physical abuse, 163 were abuses by caregivers.
Most of the time, the abuse is not random.
“Ninety percent of the perpetrators of this terrible crime know the victim,” Nicolson said. “So, imagine that. Somebody’s stolen your money, somebody’s beaten you up, you’re elderly, you’re frail. You want to get help, but the person who is doing this to you is a caretaker of yours.”
There are plenty of resources available to help raise awareness, prevent and combat elder abuse.
Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged of Western New York (LSED), is a nonprofit agency that provides free legal services to seniors and low-income adults. LSED can be contacted by calling (716)-853-3087.
Erie County Department of Social Services specializes in protective services to vulnerable adults, ages 18 and older whose conditions or circumstancess make them vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. Adult services can be reached at (716) 858-6877.
More information on elder abuse and events being held in Erie County this month can be found by clicking here.