The Jewish Home’s Center for Elder Abuse Prevention Provides Testimony
August 24, 2011 (HARTFORD, CT) Elder abuse is on the rise, and “the crime of the 21st Century”, according to Senator Blumenthal. With input from elder advocates and clients from The Jewish Home for the Elderly’s Center for Elder Abuse Prevention and other experts across the state, he is working to find solutions to this disturbing problem.
Having been appointed to the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, Senator Blumenthal held a field hearing of that committee in Hartford at the Legislative Office Building on August 23, 2011. The hearing featured Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, followed by a slate of national and local experts on the subject, including Pam Giannini, Director of the Bureau of Aging at the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
The day was modeled as a continued effort to seek insight and ideas by the Senator after hearing Mickey Rooney and a panel of national experts speak before the full Senate committee in Washington, D.C. in March.
Advocates made recommendations to Senator Blumenthal about the need for a federal level office of elder justice to lend support to state and federal level social service agencies, as well as law enforcement. Testimony throughout the morning emphasized the need for national reporting standards, as well as program best practices and enhanced training for the various professionals who are often at the front lines of the issue, such as physicians and financial institutions.
The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, a community based program of The Jewish Home, which serves seniors across Fairfield County contributed to the discussion both via written testimony submitted by its Program Director, Laura Snow, and in person through question posed to the witnesses.
“We need to elevate our discussion of senior safety in the country to the same level of awareness that we have for domestic violence and child abuse, and we need to have resources for victims” said Snow. Entering its fourth year, the Center aims to empower victims of elder abuse through safe haven and services, and to champion a safer Fairfield County for older adults.
The grant-funded program is supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships grant, which has been matched locally by the Fairfield County Community Foundation, Southwestern Agency on Aging, Near & Far Aid Association, UJA/Federation of Westport, and other private foundations and donors.
The Center serves individuals over 60 years of age across Fairfield County, and provides an array of services, including arranging for safe, confidential emergency housing appropriate to the specific needs of the client. In addition to its innovative safe haven program, the Center also provides advice to those concerned about a senior, connecting them with a range of community services that they may benefit from.
Since opening in late 2007, The Center has received over 200 referrals, and working with collaborating partners such as the Center for Women & Families and Connecticut Legal Services coordinates next steps for these referrals.
One of the Center’s safe haven clients, Diane from Bridgeport, was also present as a special guest to the Senator and submitted her story in writing prior to the hearing. The Senator acknowledged her bravery for telling her experience of physical assault and emotional abuse at the hands of her landlord’s son. Her presence, along with those of three other survivors of elder mistreatment gave a face to a real problem that happens every day across Connecticut and the globe.
To learn more about elder abuse prevention, arrange for a speaker, or become a part of a community coalition, call the Center for Elder Abuse Prevention helpline at 203-396-1097 or visit them on the web at www.jhe.org/elderabuseprevention.htm. If you know or suspect a case of elder abuse, call 1-888-774-2900 or 2-1-1 to reach the Department of Social Services, Protective Services for the Elderly.
Laura Snow, MPH
The Institute on Aging and
The Center for Elder Abuse Prevention
The Jewish Home for the Elderly
175 Jefferson Street, Fairfield, CT