Elder Abuse Awareness

Jun 11, 2014

hand with a wristband stretched across it
Stop Elder Abuse wristbands were sold at the event
Credit John Smith / WAER News

A group of people in Onondaga County who work with older adults want to make sure they know how to protect themselves from scams and elder abuse.

Wednesday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and Vera House estimates that 6,000 incidents in the County went unreported in 2013.

Vera House Spokesperson Jenny Hicks says Elder Abuse can take many different forms:

Having a living will might provide peace of mind, but seniors with a Power of Attorney are sometimes taken advantage of.  That’s according to County Assistant Welfare Attorney Morgan Thurston, who says the problem is not limited to family members:

"Could be mother or father, a grandparent; could be just a friendly relationship, someone that was willing to take on that role. In my experience, it can be all too tempting to take advantage of the authority that you've been granted." 

A similar financial discussion on scams which target senior citizens was hosted by Assistant Attorney General Ed Thompson. He advised that elderly people who are targeted remain on their guard and avoid doing business or giving any personal information to someone you don't know who calls you at home.

 

Hicks says that it’s important for concerned family members and seniors suffering mistreatment to reach out for help.  After 36 years of an abusive marriage, Perri Bergen decided to leave her husband three years ago.  Bergen says her husband constantly blamed her and was a master with his words.

 

Bergen wrote a book about her life experience, and hopes that her journey since her divorce might help someone else end an abusive situation. The Adult Protective Services Hotline at Vera House handled 175 referrals of elder abuse in 2013.  That’s a 48 percent spike in cases.

Perri Bergen portrait
Perri Bergen wrote a book about her experience with long-term spousal abuse
Credit John Smith / WAER News
 If you need assistance or suspect that a senior citizen might be suffering abuse, neglect, or exploitation, Vera House Adult Protective Services can be reached at 435-2815.  If there’s immediate danger, they suggest calling 911.