Efforts to raise awareness of elder abuse and preserve the rights and dignity of older Oneida County residents were recognized today by county officials as part of June being National Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
The county is doing its part to raise awareness throughout the community and combat the problem year-round, said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.’s office.
“The abuse of our elderly residents can take many repulsive forms, all of which must be eradicated,” said Picente. “Our seniors deserve just as much honor and respect in their later years as they did throughout their lives, and Oneida County and its partners are dedicated to ensuring their safety and protection each and every day.”
The Oneida County Elder Abuse Coalition was established in 2000 to address elders’ needs and continues to have a zero tolerance policy of elder abuse for county residents, said Picente’s office. Its purpose is to educate professionals and the public and to case-manage individuals who are at risk of neglect, exploitation, and abuse.
The coalition includes such organizations as the county Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and many others who meet regularly to problem-solve and apply interventions for those in need, Picente’s office said.
In 2017, the county Office for the Aging and Continuing Care, along with county partners in the Elder Abuse Coalition, addressed more than 143 referrals of older adults facing issues of exploitation, abuse and neglect.
“While neglect, exploitation and abuse of elders is a reality in our society, the elder abuse coalition is a multidisciplinary approach that ensures that all facets of county government...work together to ensure the rights and dignity of our older citizens are protected,” said Michael Romano, Director of the county Office for the Aging and Continuing Care.
County Sheriff Robert Maciol noted his office “works side-by-side with the Office for the Aging daily as we work to protect our seniors....From our Project Lifesaver Program; to our daily calls to check on some of our most vulnerable residents; to our educational programs; to our zero tolerance policy, when it comes to victimizing seniors, we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our elderly safe and free from scams....”
Colleen Fahy-Box, Commissioner of the county Department of Social Services, said “to draw attention to the serious concern of elder abuse and neglect it is imperative that community agencies, organizations, and citizens become more aware and involved in the efforts to protect vulnerable aging adults....Elder abuse is often difficult to identify, so it is critical that all people increase their awareness of the signs of neglect or abuse and the mechanisms to report these concerns to the appropriate authorities....”
The Office for the Aging is offering a workshop for financial professionals Thursday to provide information on financial exploitation of elders and inform them about the department’s services and programs. For information about the coalition or to make a referral, contact the county Office for the Aging and Continuing Care at 315-768-3641.