Oneida County Raises Elder Abuse Awareness

Issue Recognized Worldwide in June, County Fights Year Round

As Elder Abuse Awareness Month is recognized worldwide, Oneida County is doing its part to raise awareness of the issue throughout the community and combat the problem year round.

Since 2006, the World Health Organization has recognized June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month and seized the opportunity as a way to unite communities around the world in bringing this issue to light.

“The abuse of our elderly residents can take many repulsive forms, all of which must be eradicated,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Our seniors deserve just as much honor and respect in their later years as they did throughout their lives, and Oneida County and its partners are dedicated to ensuring their safety and protection each and every day.”

The Oneida County Elder Abuse Coalition was established in 2000 as a multi-disciplinary approach to address elders’ needs and continues to have a zero tolerance policy of elder abuse for citizens living in Oneida County. Its purpose is to educate professionals and the public and to case manage individuals who are at risk of neglect, exploitation, and abuse.

The coalition consists of members from organizations such as the Oneida County Department of Social Services, Adult Protective Services, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and many others who come together regularly to meet, problem solve, and apply interventions to assist those in need.

In 2017, the Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care, along with the county’s partners in the Elder Abuse Coalition, addressed more than 143 referrals of older adults facing issues of exploitation, abuse and neglect.

“While neglect, exploitation and abuse of elders is a reality in our society, the elder abuse coalition is a multidisciplinary approach that ensures that all facets of county government respond and work together to ensure the rights and dignity of our older citizens are protected,” said Michael Romano, Director of the Oneida County Office for the Aging and Continuing Care.

“The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office works side-by-side with the Office for the Aging daily as we work to protect our seniors,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol. “From our Project Lifesaver Program; to our daily calls to check on some of our most vulnerable residents; to our educational programs; to our zero tolerance policy, when it comes to victimizing seniors, we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our elderly safe and free from scams. I applaud the County Executive for ensuring that the resources we need are always there for us.”

“All forms of elder abuse must be identified and eliminated, but if something of a criminal nature is happening involving a senior member of our community, my office has a special unit dealing with such matters,” said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara. “If you see something, say something.”

“In order to draw attention to the serious concern of elder abuse and neglect it is imperative that community agencies, organizations, and citizens become more aware and involved in the efforts to protect vulnerable aging adults,” said Colleen Fahy-Box, Commissioner of the Oneida County Department of Social Services. “Elder abuse is often difficult to identify, so it is critical that all people increase their awareness of the signs of neglect or abuse and the mechanisms to report these concerns to the appropriate authorities. The Oneida County Elder Abuse Coalition is an example of the type of community partnership that promotes greater collective efficacy in addressing this serious social issue.”

As part of Elder Abuse Awareness Month, the Office for the Aging & Continuing Care will be offering a workshop for financial professionals on June 21 to provide information on the financial exploitation of elders and to inform them about the department’s services and programs.

For more information regarding the Elder Abuse Coalition or to make a referral, please contact Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care at 315-768-3641.

Photo Caption: (L-R) Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, Oneida County Department of Social Services Commissioner Colleen Fahy-Box, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara , Director of the Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care Michael Romano, Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care Aging Services Coordinator Hallie Kowalsky and Oneida County Office for the Aging & Continuing Care Services Administrator Hilda Pomeroy.