Some of the leaders in providing shelters for victims of elder abuse are meeting for the first time at a conference in an effort to combine forces and give more refuge to seniors in need. Eight shelters have formed an alliance that are meeting in suburban Cincinnati to discuss the growing problem of elder abuse as well as ways to better combat the issue. The shelters in the alliance have been participating in monthly conference calls to discuss their programs, and this is the first time that they will all be meeting in person to talk about their elder abuse shelters. They plan on sharing best practices, are bringing in expert guest speakers, and work together to create an even better network of elder abuse shelters.
Elder Abuse and Prevention
Estimates from leading researchers are that at least two million seniors are abused, exploited, and neglected every year in the United States alone. In addition, nearly everyone agrees that many more cases of elder abuse go unreported or undetected. The number of seniors over the age of seventy is expected to more than double to about 64 million people by 2050. Elder abuse occurs most often at the hands of a family member or other people close to the victim.
As a result, elder abuse advocates encourage bank employees, other service providers, neighbors, and anyone else close to someone in their senior years to be alert for signs of physical and mental elder abuse. Prevention training has begun in states like New York to certain groups that see the elderly often like doormen and apartment workers.
Elder Abuse Shelters
The elder abuse shelters are designed as a safe place for victims to receive emergency care, counseling, and legal help for their abuse issues while they stay among their fellow peers in the senior community. The leader of the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention that opened in 2005 at New York City’s Hebrew Home has found that engaging with victims of elder abuse in an environment where their dignity is a priority and they can be in an established community has been the most effective way to begin the healing process for these victims. Typically, the shelters provide ninety to 120 day programs in the community for free with a range of services aimed at giving the victims of elder abuse a way to resume their lives in a safer location.
The Weinberg Center has helped other nonprofit organizations around the country form their own elder abuse shelters. Most of the shelters outside of New York are operating in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Ohio but other shelters are opening in various states. Additionally, states and private entities that are interested in opening their own elder abuse shelters were also encouraged to come to the conference in Ohio in order to learn more about the shelter programs. “I felt it was really important that we have conversations, that we create best practices and that we share successes and challenges,” the leader of the Weinberg Center said, in order to help the shelter movement grow.