2014 Campus News: Introducing the ElderSAFE Center

2014 Campus News: Introducing the ElderSAFE Center

Goal is to protect seniors and offer services and support

ElderSAFE Logo, purpleSafeguarding Seniors from Abuse

In the Jewish tradition, the fall holiday of Sukkot is marked by constructing temporary structures reminiscent of shelters built in Biblical times to protect farmers harvesting crops in the fields. In this same spirit of providing temporary shelter, Charles E. Smith Life Communities has launched a new program, the ElderSAFE Center, the first of its kind in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

The initials S.A.F.E. stand for Shelter, Advocacy, Freedom from abuse, and Education. In addition to providing short-term shelter for older adults referred by community agencies, the Center offers a range of services including:

  • Confidential counseling
  • Medical services
  • Physical and/or psychological therapeutic services
  • Case management
  • Community referrals and coordination with partner agencies
  • Legal referrals
  • Spiritual support
  • SAFE discharge

Tovah KasdinThe ElderSAFE team and its director, Tovah Kasdin, J.D., work to ensure that every client receives individualized, coordinated care and resides in the campus residence best suited to their needs. The Center case manager creates a partnership with community agencies to develop a safe long-term plan once the client is ready to leave the Center.

The ElderSAFE program also focuses on preventing future abuse by raising awareness, educating our community, and encouraging early intervention. The ElderSAFE Helpline for professionals to call when shelter is warranted is 301.816.5099.

Elder abuse is a far-reaching issue affecting nearly five million Americans each year. It is not always easily identified as many people who commit the abuse are trusted family members, friends, or caretakers. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Would you recognize the signs?

Types of elder abuse

Elder abuse is the mistreatment of older adults in one or more of the following ways:

  • Physical:  Use of force causing pain, harm, or physical injury, including: kicking, hitting, pushing, slapping, or pinching. Injuries may include bruises, burns, cuts, or welts. Inappropriate use of medications or physical restraints can also be forms of physical abuse.
  • Sexual:  Any type of non-consensual sexual contact.
  • Psychological:  Mistreatment that affects emotional or mental health, including: intimidation, threats, harassment, humiliation, belittlement, or isolation.
  • Neglect:  Willful deprivation of basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, medicine, or personal hygiene.
  • Self-neglect:  The inability to provide for one’s own physical or psychological needs which causes risk to health or safety.
  • Financial exploitation:  Misuse of the older adult’s money, property, or resources. 

Warning signs in caregiver relationships

  • Older adult appears fearful of caregiver
  • Caregiver seeks to prevent older adult from interacting privately with family, friends, or other professionals
  • Caregiver is indifferent or angry towards older adult, or refuses to provide necessary assistance
  • Older adult and caregiver give conflicting accounts of an incident

Key symptoms of elder abuse

  • Agitation, trembling, confusion, disorientation
  • Emotional distress such as crying or depression
  • Withdrawal, lack of emotion
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Social or physical isolation
  • Poor physical hygiene (dirty clothing, body odor)
  • Home in disarray or lacking basic necessities
  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Unexplained loss of financial independence, unauthorized withdrawal of funds or use of credit cards

What can I do?

If elder abuse is suspected, call 911 or the local Adult Protective Service (APS) office in your community. In Montgomery County, Maryland, call APS at 240.777.3000. 

Charles E. Smith Life Communities is grateful to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, for their guidance in establishing this program, and to the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation and Montgomery County, Maryland, for grants to support it. 

Charles E. Smith Life Communities thanks our partners, listed below, for helping the ElderSAFE Center build a strong and effective response to elder abuse.ElderSAFE Bracelets

  • Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA)
  • Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA)
  • Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA)
  • Montgomery County Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Montgomery County Police, Elder Abuse Unit
  • Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office


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