Physical, verbal and financial abuse of the elderly cuts across all segments of the population. Too often this abuse is perpetrated by a family member or trusted paid caregiver and seniors feel ashamed and do not share what is happening. Participants agreed that more training needs to be done for people who work with seniors to more quickly identify the signs of abuse. One of the biggest issues discussed was financial abuse, where someone tries to control the finances of the senior or forces an older person to take money out of the bank. Participants agreed that training for financial services personnel, such as tellers at a bank, could help workers recognize the signs of financial abuse.
Attendees at the round table included: Risa Brechman, Weill Cornell Project on Elder Justice, Robin Roberts, NYC Elder Abuse Center at Weill Cornell Medical College, Ann Marie Cook from Lifespan, Judy Willig, Heights and Hills Community Center, Assemblyman Alan Maisel, City Councilman Vincent Gentile, Kimberly Williams, Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of NYC, Arlene Markarian, Elder Abuse Unit at the Brooklyn DAs Office, Jackie Berman and Aurora Salamone, NYC Department for the Aging, and Cheryl Levine, Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate at LICH.
Are you eligible for SCRIE? Here are the basics:
- You must be 62 years or older
- You must live in a rent regulated apartment
- Your income for the year must be $29,000 or below
- You must spend at least 1/3 of your monthly income on rent
Increasing problems in the program's administration, currently run by the New York City Department of Finance, led to a planning meeting held recently by City and State elected officials to discuss strategies for improving the SCRIE program and increasing outreach and education efforts so that the many thousands of seniors who are eligible for the program actually are enrolled.
One change many of my governmental colleagues and I agree on is that the administration of SCRIE should be moved back to the Department for the Aging, where there were better outreach efforts and more sensitivity to the needs of seniors. The City Council will be proposing legislation to set up a program where a SCRIE specialist would be dedicated to one senior center in each Community Board in the City. This person would be responsible for education, outreach, assisting seniors with the application process, recertification, and working through any problems that arise.