FCA's Safe Observant Seniors Program Hosts Elder Abuse Awareness & Prevention Conference
FCA’s Senior & Adult Services Division hosted a virtual Elder Abuse Awareness & Prevention Conference on September 16, 2020. Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, FCA President & CEO, kicked off the conference with a few welcoming words and by introducing Nassau County District Attorney, Madeline Singas. D.A. Singas set discussed the isolation of seniors and financial fallout effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which are contributing to a dramatic increase in felony arrests across Long Island. Adult children, many of who already struggle with addiction and mental illness, have been forced to live in isolation with their senior parent, creating the “perfect storm.” D.A. Singas highlighted the formation of a Nassau County Multi-Disciplinary Team, bringing together professionals from various disciplines, including Adult Protective Services, aging services, health and human services, and law enforcement to effectively address complex cases of abuse of older adults (aged 60 and older).
Over 100 conference attendees tuned in to hear from seven panelists, each with a different focus, sharing valuable information about elder abuse awareness and prevention. Panelists who participated in the conference included active members of the Nassau County E-MDT (Enhanced Multi-Disciplinary Team).
Sarah Samson, Safe Center LI, highlighted her work as Elder Abuse E-MDT coordinator. She provided an overview of how the team collaborates and shares resources to resolve cases of elder abuse and keep victims safe. Arlene Markarian, Nassau County Elder Abuse Unit Chief, was instrumental in making the E-MDT happen in Nassau County. Arlene shared an overview of the different forms of elder abuse, cautioned attendees about ageism and stereotypes that prevent the identification of elder abuse, and explained the type of evidence needed to prosecute a case. Attendees heard about advance directives and guardianship from Adam Kahn, Esq. and from Sarah Smith, Administrator of Nassau County Adult Protective Services, outlining APS’s role and responsibilities. Sergeant Sabrina Gregg, Nassau County Police Department Domestic Liaison Officer, discussed what happens when the police are called for an elder abuse case or a domestic violence dispute. Anne Kilarjian, FCA Elder Abuse Counselor, shared community resources available to help victims and focused on FCA services for victims. Manda Kristal, FCA Financial Exploitation and Abuse Program Coordinator, presented an update on trending financial scams, shared tips on how to protect oneself from becoming a victim, and provided valuable supports resources.
The morning was filled with vital information, real-life examples and invaluable resources all centered around the “Breaking the Silence” theme. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of elder abuse cases are reported to authorities. Seniors are often too afraid, too frail, too isolated, or too embarrassed to report to anyone their experiences as a victim of fraud and abuse. It is up to the community, professionals, friends, relatives, and neighbors to raise awareness, share resources and speak out when someone needs help. District Attorney Singas’ warm remarks referring to seniors as “our history” and “our treasures” provided a powerful message and strong reminder of how we must act in order safeguard and advocate for older adults in our communities. The most vulnerable members of our society must be protected. Join FCA as we work to prevent elder abuse through group action, teamwork, coordination of resources, education and raising awareness.
FCA would like to thank all those who participated in the Elder Abuse Awareness & Prevention Conference.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of elder abuse, please contact FCA’s Safe Observant Senior (SOS) Program at (516)485-3425. Please call for more information or even just to discuss a situation. All calls are confidential.