2015 Initiatives: ElderSAFE Center

2015 Initiatives: ElderSAFE Center

Charles E. Smith Life Communities expands coalition working with ElderSAFE Center.

In January, 2015, Charles E. Smith Life Communities welcomed advocates for seniors, including local, state, and Federal representatives, to inaugurate the ElderSAFE Center, which officially ElderSAFE Community Partners launched in September. The first program of its kind in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, ElderSAFE was established to provide safe, temporary shelter for abused seniors, community education, and advocacy.

“For every one case of elder abuse that is reported, 23 cases are not,” notes Tovah Kasdin, JD, director of the ElderSAFE Center. “Elder abuse encompasses physical, sexual, psychological, and financial mistreatment as well as neglect. It is a complicated and multi-faceted problem, affecting as many as one in ten older adults living on their own.”

An attorney with more than 15 years of experience in Domestic Violence law, Tovah Kasdin formerly served as a prosecutor with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. “We know caregivers can be abusers; family members can be abusive; people we trust can take advantage of us financially. So we know elder abuse is difficult and it’s personal.”

To help strengthen the community’s coordinated response to this problem, the ElderSAFE Center on our campus has forged a multi-disciplinary coalition of community partners. “Together we can address this issue,” Kasdin said, a sentiment echoed by Debbie Feinstein, chief, Family Violence Division, Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Feinstein spoke to the more than 100 attendees, underscoring the county’s anticipated growth in the 65+ population and the need to leverage financial resources, political capital, and real-time discussions across Montgomery County agencies to address elder abuse. 

“Only four percent of reported elder abuse cases come from the elder person; 96 percent of the reports come from somewhere else.  That makes us – physicians, law enforcement, care providers -- so important.  We need to recognize the red flags of elder abuse, act as ambassadors, and educate the community,” Feinstein said.

ElderSAFE Community Partners. LoewyElizabeth Loewy, left, emphasized the role of dementia, isolation, lack of awareness, and unscrupulous heirs in what she termed “financial violence.”  Loewy was chief of the Elder Abuse Unit, New York County District Attorney’s Office, and is now general counsel and senior vice president of EverSafe, working to identify potential financial exploitation, scams, and fraud before irreparable harm is done.  She will participate in an ElderSAFE seminar for professionals on March 19 on protecting seniors from financial abuse.

The ElderSAFE Center at Charles E. Smith Life Communities is modeled on a program established at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, and is supported by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.; Montgomery County, Maryland; and the Board of Governors of Charles E. Smith Life Communities. Community partners include:

          • Catholic Charities Legal Network of the Archdiocese of Washington
          • Holy Cross Hospital
          • 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

Referrals can be made by agencies or programs at the ElderSAFE helpline, 301.816.5099, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Additional information is available at www.eldersafe.org.


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