World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15th, 2021, and during the entire month of June, communities around the world work together to promote an understanding of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. The Western New York WEAAD campaign is a collaboration of New York State, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Buffalo, the Erie County Council on Elder Abuse, Live Well Erie County, and Center for Elder Law & Justice. The press conference will take place on June 15th at 1:00 PM at the Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin Street in Buffalo.
The theme of this year’s campaign is “Reach Out, Speak Out,” encouraging people to check in with seniors, who have been particularly isolated during the past 14 months. The partner organizations involved are making a concerted effort to highlight the issue of elder abuse, and what resources are available to older adults. Thanks to Meals on Wheels and FeedMore of WNY, information will be included in meal deliveries during the month of June. Also included will be face masks and hand sanitizer, courtesy of NYS Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
Caring Cards are being collected from area school children to share with seniors at various locations. Any school or other organization that would like to participate in the Caring Cards Challenge can do so year-round, by contacting the Center for Elder Law & Justice.
The organizations are collaborating on a social media campaign throughout the month of June, and landmarks will be lit up in purple on June 15th, including Buffalo City Hall, Sahlen Field, The Peace Bridge, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Niagara Falls, to name a few.
“Seniors are the backbone of our communities, and it is vital that we continue to ensure their safety and wellbeing,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Elder abuse is a public health and human rights issue that impacts far too many, and we must continue to do everything we can to protect our state’s most vulnerable populations and hold accountable those who seek to take advantage of our seniors. Today and every day, my office remains committed to
combatting and raising awareness of elder abuse, and I thank our coalition of partner organizations for their invaluable work and support in this effort.”
“We have a dedicated team of prosecutors in Erie County who are committed to serving the most vulnerable members of this community by obtaining the justice they deserve. No one, especially senior citizens, should be afraid or embarrassed to report that they have been a victim of a crime. Coming forward allows law enforcement to investigate your case and stops these criminals from harming someone else. I want elderly adults to know that their wellbeing is important and that their testimony is essential for prosecutors to obtain a successful conviction. I encourage everyone to check on their elderly family members, friends and neighbors… and urge them call my office if they suspect that someone has been the victim of a scam, abuse or other crime,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.
“Elder abuse is an issue that is, unfortunately, far more prevalent in our country than most people realize,” Senator Sean Ryan said. “The realities of COVID exacerbated the problem, leading to increased isolation for many seniors and an upswing in elder neglect. World Elder Abuse Day is an excellent opportunity to educate people about the breadth of this issue. I applaud the great work being done by these local organizations to increase awareness of elder abuse throughout Western New York.”
Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said “The pandemic presented challenges for everyone, but the impact on our seniors has been especially harsh. We need to reassure them that they are not alone and there are agencies and organizations in the community that can help. I am proud to work with the Center for Elder Law and Justice to help guard against acts of elder abuse, whether it be physical, psychological or financial abuse. In the Senate, I have sponsored legislation to make sure those who abuse and exploit our senior citizens do not go unpunished and I will continue to work with my partners in government and law enforcement to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
“We need to raise awareness about elder abuse and how it negatively impacts far too many people across the state of New York each year,” said Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day provides individuals and communities throughout the state with an easy way to participate in spreading awareness of this critical issue since awareness is a crucial component of prevention. Thank you to the Western New York WEAAD committee for shining a light on this concerning matter. Together we as a community can put an end to this issue.”
Assemblymember Karen McMahon said: “Each year, roughly five million incidents of elder abuse occur in the United States, but unfortunately, it’s estimated that nearly 85 percent of these incidents never get reported. I’m proud to co-sponsor a NYS Legislature Resolution proclaiming June 15, 2021 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day in New York State in order to sound the alarm about this largely unreported crime. Helping to educate victims on their options and connecting them with resources are key to helping them find the justice they deserve.”
“The past 15 months have been very difficult and isolating for many seniors. It’s critical that seniors have someone to look in on them to check on their welfare. That’s true whether they live at home or in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I’m proud to have helped pass legislation allowing access to seniors in nursing homes by family members and ombudsman, so as to ensure they are being well cared for. Elder Abuse Day is an important reminder for all of us to check on the welfare of our senior friends and neighbors,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace.
“I have long supported cooperation between law enforcement agencies and organizations that protect people within our community. The Sheriff’s Office has an established team of professional investigators and advocates that work closely to solve crimes and aid victims of abuse,” stated Sheriff Timothy B. Howard. “Unfortunately, my office still encounters instances of elder abuse. Too often, the abuse is hidden because victims are isolated from their family members and neighbors. That is why I am asking everyone to learn the signs of elder abuse and call 911 to report concerns or incidents – it’s all our responsibility to report these crimes and help the victims.”
Karen Nicolson, CEO of Center for Elder Law & Justice stated, “The last year has been especially challenging for older adults, particularly those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and their families. Unfortunately, the increased isolation also means that abusive situations were reported even less than in normal times. We hope that the activities surrounding World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will encourage people to check in with friends and loved ones. Please contact our office or your local Adult Protective Services office if you believe someone may be a victim of abuse.”
The Center for Elder Law & Justice, a member of the Erie County Council on Elder Abuse, is proud to partner with these local agencies and organizations to bring awareness to this important issue. Please contact Shana DiCamillo, Director of Development & External Relations with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org / (716) 853-3087 x 277.