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Press release focus elder abuse : one in every 10 people 60 and older have reported being a victim of sexual, emotional, active or passive neglect or financial abuse. Lisa Okeefe for NYS Assembly 123

OKEEFE SPEAKS OUT - focus Elder Abuse

Press release:

Immediate release for January 2, 2024



Focus: Seniors


Lisa OKeefe, candidate for NYS Assembly 123rd district held a press conference today to highlight and stress the need to add focus and meaningful legislative and budgetary efforts to protect our senior citizens from a spectrum of abuses including but limited to sexual, financial, emotional, mental, physical, and psychological abuses.

“Reported crime against our seniors has skyrocketed over the years. The New York State Office of Protective Services states the number of New York elder abuse cases reported to their office has increased by more than 23 percent since 2008 and more than 67 percent since 1997. Right now, one in every 10 people 60 and older have reported being a victim of sexual, emotional, active or passive neglect or financial abuse with one statewide study estimating that for every elder abuse case reported to authorities, there are 23 cases that are unreported.

Accordingly, OKeefe cited a report from the NYS Comptrollers Office that infersMany in this age group are victims because they are silent – they may be ashamed to mention if a family member has abused them or afraid of retaliation if it is in an institutional environment. And because of their advanced age they are considered easy targets by those who would do them harm be it a family member, a stranger, a caregiver, an institution or the government itself. As a classic example, during the height of COVID pandemic, elderly from nursing homes were turned away from hospitals and returned by ambulance back to their institution with body bags next to their stretcher to prepare for their likely passing. Disastrously there were no checks and balances to challenge the Governor’s decision.

While Senator Lanza’s legislation to increase the penalties for crime against those over 70 is a positive factor, so much more is needed to help this group of people.

To that end, OKeefe proposes the following:

We need to create and promote a dedicated 3 digit hotline number to make it easy for all to remember and this hotline needs to be manned 24/7 by an experienced and trained bi-lingual person who can take necessary steps or give guidance to the caller. Right now, the Office for the Aging has a hotline number where someone will listen to the circumstances during business hours and either call the police or call the Adult Protective Services. That number is 844-697-3605. The problem is abuse doesn’t happen just during business hours nor does it only happen to English speaking people. And, how difficult is it for one to remember that 844 number in an emergency situation. It is vital we allocate the 3 digit number because statistics have shown that those in advanced age feel hesitant to call 911 if they are being abused and may opt instead to ask a live person who has been trained to assist them and forward them to the right resources or responses to resolve the reported problem.

Expand mandated reporters who may notice signs of abuse.  As a teacher I was a mandated reporter – someone the state mandated to report on anything I thought reflected possible abuse of a child. And teachers hold the responsibility to be mandated reporters because they see the child each weekday and may notice things on a more timely basis.  But there is no such thing with the elderly. When elected I will craft legislation to make caregivers in the home mandated reporters. Caregivers see the elderly on a daily basis – they see the dynamics going on with them and notice subtle changes in the person. It is therefore a needed safety mandate.

And we need to enact laws where all adults have the right to be free of unreasonable confinement and restraint. For too long people have tried to justify the use of restraint and unreasonable confinement as being necessary to keep the elderly or adult dependent free from the risk of harm to themselves or others.  This includes placing the individual in a locked room, involuntary separation of an individual from his or her living area, or the use of excessive medication to an individual. Having strong guidelines is necessary to prevent this type of abuse so one knows when a less restrictive measure would be appropriate.”

OKeefe vows that when elected she will craft legislation to help our senior population.

As for budgeting, OKeefe cites a January 2, 2023 article by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) where they admit the State has “failed to spend millions of dollars on programs geared to support senior citizens, even during the COVID-19 pandemic when the need was greater, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. There are older New Yorkers waiting for services to help them remain independent and out of nursing homes, but the Office for the Aging isn’t doing enough to make sure the funding for those services is going out the door,” DiNapoli said. “This is especially disappointing because many seniors have suffered from isolation and restrictions imposed during the pandemic. I urge the Office for the Aging to act on our recommendations. Our seniors deserve better.”

is in full agreement with DiNapoli. Our seniors deserve better and OKeefe empathically states that when in office she will make the elderly one of her top priorities.