AREA NEWSThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Attorney General Unveils Elder Abuse Prevention Program in Cortlandt

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July 31 Galef Forum Pix
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announces a new elder abuse prevention program at Cortlandt Town Hall last week.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used a senior forum in Cortlandt hosted by Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (D – Ossining) last week to announce the launch of a new statewide elder-abuse prevention program designed to help seniors identify potential scams and abuses before they happen.

The “Smart Seniors” initiative is intended to help seniors prevent being exploited by financial schemes, identity theft, telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud, home improvement rip-offs, Internet and online scams, and physical abuse.

“To prevent senior citizens from becoming victims of fraud and abuse, we must empower them with information they can use to protect themselves,” said Schneiderman. “My office is committed to protecting all New Yorkers, especially those who are targeted for fraud and abuse. The ‘Smart Seniors’ program is another tool that we can deploy to protect vulnerable New Yorkers and to help seniors avoid becoming victims in the first place.”

According to a 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, the estimated total amount of money lost by exploited seniors each year is up to $2.9 billion a year, a 12-percent increase from 2008.

“We must encourage more people to stand up against fraud and abuse and to take control over their health and safety,” said Galef. “I hope those who have been victims will be empowered by this new program to come forward and fight back against their abusers.”

As part of the program, presenters across the state will visit senior centers, assisted living facilities, libraries, houses of worship, senior clubs and other locations to teach seniors about the most common scams, the techniques perpetrators commonly use, and who to contact if they identify a scam or are victimized.

In 2011 and 2012, Schneiderman obtained more than 30 convictions of persons engaged in abuse and neglect of patients, nine of which were as a result of undercover operations in nursing homes. Last month, Schneiderman announced 50 settlement agreements with home-improvement contractors who were taking advantage of consumers, many of whom were seniors, by failing to provide written contracts and not completing the work consumers had paid for.

More than 100 seniors attended Galef’s forum at Cortlandt Town Hall. Others making presentations at the forum included Assistant Attorney General Gary Brown; Suzanne Mateo of Hudson Valley Hospital Center; Meryle Richman, director of physical therapy at Club Fit; and Laura Traynor, executive director of The Center for Aging in Place.

Richman encouraged seniors to remain active but also be aware of their surroundings, noting 19,700 deaths annually are attributed to elderly people suffering injuries from falls.

“You don’t want to be another statistic,” Richman said. “It’s never too late to start exercising and change your diet. Exercise is important for staying healthy.”


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