BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – People who work with the elderly population in Erie County are getting a new tool to help protect their clients.
Dozens of providers and advocates spent Monday morning at the United Way building learning how to use the new Legal Risk Detector App.
The Center for Elder Law & Justice teamed up with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and the Erie County Office of Senior Services to introduce the app to those who work closely with elderly members of our community.
“This app is designed for Meals on Wheels people, home health aides, senior services workers, people who would be kind of the front line staff,” explained Karen Nicolson, chief executive officer of the Center for Elder Law & Justice.
Those providers are sometimes the only people with whom home-bound seniors interact on a regular basis, and sometimes, they’re they only people who can recognize potential housing, consumer, financial exploitation or healthcare issues — if they know the right questions to ask.
That’s where the new app comes in.
It’s a comprehensive list of of things to ask elderly clients to help identify potential abuse, ranging from inquiries about whether someone has been pressuring them to make changes to their power of attorney to questions about whether someone has been stopping them from accessing their money or health services they’ve been approved for.
The app also allows providers to upload photos and documents, which are all added to the report that’s generated by the seniors’ answers.
Each report points to referrals the provider may need to make to help their client. It also automatically goes to the Center for Elder Law & Justice if any legal risk red flags are identified.
“This tool allows them to sort of reach out for help and to get to my office at the Center for Elder Law and Justice and then potentially over to the District Attorney for prosecution,” Nicolson said. “So we’re really excited about it’s development.”
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says his office has seen a number of cases of financial and physical elder abuse already this year, in part, he says, because so many seniors in Erie County don’t have their children living nearby to keep close tabs on them.
Flynn says he hopes word spreads about this app and it’s ability to help identify problems, so would-be abusers will think twice about taking advantage of elderly victims.
“I think it will make a huge difference. It’s another tool that we have to combat crime,” Flynn told News 4.
The app that was unveiled this week is intended only for use by providers and advocates who work with the elderly in our community.
But, thanks to a national grant, another risk detector app is in the works that will be available for the wider public.
In the meantime, anyone with questions or concerns about possible elder abuse is urged to contact the Erie County NY Connects line at (716)858-8526.