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Empire State Looks to Pass Laws to Protect the Elderly

Old couple on benchNew York is home to the third-largest elderly population in the U.S., a population that appears increasingly vulnerable to physical and financial abuse. But New York's laws are lagging behind in their effort to protect these seniors.
The Buffalo Business Journal's recent report, "A look at elder law in New York," explains that the most debilitated and neglected members of the community—the frail elderly, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, and the abused and exploited—need added legal protection. This need to provide help for them will continue to grow as the population ages and as family ties are strained with the burden of illness.
According to Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, "The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be roughly $2.9 billion, up 12 percent since 2006. Abusers have proven to be strangers, caregivers and even family members."
Schimminger cites a federal study that found seniors are often vulnerable to financial exploitation because of their mental and physical limitations. There are 29 other states that have enacted statutes designed to protect senior citizens against financial abuse, but New York hasn't followed suit.
Nursing home facilities responsible for senior citizen care have caused injury due to improper care, lack of care, and—in some cases—intentional physical abuse. Elder abuse can be difficult to detect because the signs aren't immediately apparent and the abuse can be hidden in secrecy.
Schimminger and Sen. Patrick Gallivan introduced legislation in an attempt to aid the prosecution of those who victimize the elderly. The legislation made it to committee where it remained through 2014 until the legislative session ended. The bills were reintroduced in February 2015 and again are in committee.
One success with legislation in this area is a bill that amended the law which previously allowed a caregiver or professional social worker to accompany a child under the age of 12 into the grand jury proceeding. Now, a vulnerable elderly person may have the same companion for the grand jury proceedings, with the prosecutor's consent.
Reference: Buffalo Business Journal (April 19, 2016) "A look at elder law in New York"

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