Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken a stand against elder abuse by signing a new law that requires state agencies to develop guidelines to help better identify elder abuse. According to Gov. Cuomo, the new guidelines will be proactive by establishing guidelines to help identify cases of elder abuse, self-neglect and maltreatment and comprehensive by following-up with any at-risk senior citizens. Further, these guidelines will be shared not only with state agencies, but also with healthcare providers who are often in the best position to identify potential elder abuse.
This new law hopes to increase the reporting rate by educating and empowering neutral third-parties that frequently interact with senior citizens in the state – including government agencies, healthcare providers and even banks. According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, sponsor of the bill, involving the healthcare industry will be pivotal in countering “one of the most under-reported crimes” in the nation. Because the doctor-patient relationship generally involves an implicit trust and regular interactions (especially for elderly citizens), Lupardo notes that healthcare providers are in the best position to assess and monitor potential elder abuse.
The law, which was signed by Gov. Cuomo on September 13, 2017, is sorely needed in the state. A 2011 study by New York State found that for every one reported case of elder abuse, there are 24 cases that are never reported to authorities. Elder abuse which can be physical, financial or psychological, is commonly unreported because the victims feel a personal sense of shame, lack knowledge that a crime was committed or want to protect their family members, who are commonly the perpetrators.
In addition to being devastating for senior citizens and widely underreported, elder abuse is also a growing problem as New York’s population continues to age. With 3.7 million New Yorkers over the age of 60, New York has the fourth-largest population of senior citizens, a number that was predicted to reach 5.2 million by 2013, according to the New York Office for the Aging.
The new law takes effect immediately.