Nobody wants to see an older adult beaten, neglected or exploited. Unfortunately, it happens more than you might think.
Researchers estimate that 10 percent of adults older than 60 were abused in some way each year, but studies have also shown that crimes against seniors are highly underestimated. Individuals who have dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s – or who are in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities – are often not included in surveys. In addition, older adults may be less likely to report crimes, particularly if a friend or family member is the perpetrator.
This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and at ElderServe we are passionate about protecting and supporting senior crime victims. We don’t provide legal advice, but advocates with our Crime Victim Services program help seniors understand their rights, navigate the justice system, develop safety plans and more.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of the work for me is ensuring that seniors have access to the legal justice system and that their voice is part of the court process,” says Paul Troy, Senior Crime Victim Advocate. “Sometimes that means something as basic as providing transportation to and from the courthouse. While the courthouse is ostensibly accessible, in reality it is very difficult for someone who has mobility issues. We also regularly assist victims who are homebound obtain protective orders via telephonic hearings — a service that is unique in the state of Kentucky.”
Crime Victim Advocate Linette Hatfield finds it rewarding “to assist clients by empowering them to take charge of their circumstances. My hope is that they can find a sense of security in the face of violence.”
Our advocates also reach out to the community, educating the public about recognizing and preventing elder abuse. If you’d like someone to speak to your group, please call us at 502.736.3829.
If you prefer to educate yourself, the National Institute on Aging has a web page outlining types of elder abuse and their signs. The Office of Justice Programs has a fact sheet with trends and data on crimes against seniors.
Our Crime Victim Services program is largely funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act, works closely with the Louisville Metro Police Department (especially the Crimes Against Seniors Unit), the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, Legal Aid Society, Adult Protective Services, Center for Women and Families, University of Louisville Law Clinic, Jewish Family and Career Services, Metro United Way, KIPDA (Area Agency on Aging), Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties Services), TRIAD, and the Elder Abuse Services Coordinating Council.
As a community, we must work together to protect the vulnerable among us, whether they are frail, sick, young or old – and we are grateful for the assistance we receive in helping crime victims understand and exercise their rights.