By: Elizabeth Román | firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Credit: MassLive
HOLYOKE – A $450,000 grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice has made it possible for the Holyoke Police Department to join with several agencies to take a closer look at elder abuse in the city.
The police department has partnered with the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, Womanshelter Compañeras and Western Mass Eldercare to create a task force that will look at ways to prevent domestic abuse against people over the age of 50.
“The focus is to end abuse for those in later life, specifically those age 50 and above,” said John Hart, grant writer and fiscal manager of the police department. “Elder abuse is a problem nationwide because many cases are never reported.”
A kickoff event for C.A.L.L Task Force” (Combating Abuse Later in Life) was held at Holyoke Community College on Wednesday.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni said the partnership will help protect seniors in the region.
“The partnerships generated by this grant concentrate resources to combat elder abuse. Having service providers and law enforcement working together strengthen prevention efforts and, when victimization occurs, makes it easier for seniors to access the help and services they need during difficult times,” he said.
Gulluni said financial scams are continuing to increase.
“My Elder and Disabled Person Protection Unit constantly works with local law enforcement, as well as, state and non-profit service providers to investigate both physical and financial abuse of seniors. What stands out over the past couple of years is the proliferation and sophistication of financial scams targeted at seniors,” he said.
Roseann Martoccia, executive director of Western Mass Elder Care, said elder abuse is not often talked about.
“For many years the reports of elder abuse in Massachusetts have been on an upward trend and that’s actually a good thing because nationally the statistics say that for every report that is made, there are probably three that are not made,” she said. “This is a problem that goes across socioeconomic status. Anyone can be affected by abuse, self-neglect, emotional and physical abuse, financial exploitation and sexual abuse.”
Martoccia said sometimes the neglect comes from well-meaning family members.
“I call it benign neglect. People feel like they can do it all. They think ‘I am caring for my family member I don’t need any help. They cared for me and brought me up and I’m gonna do this’ and sometimes even well intentioned people need help, because everyone burns out. You get tired, it’s financially, emotionally and physically taxing. If you are a care giver reach out and others will be there to help you. You’ll find a way,” she said.
Hart said the grant also pays for an elder affairs officer and a women’s shelter advocate to go out into the community and do case reviews and follow-ups with people.
“A lot of times there is a lack of communication. With this new response team we can work together to bring awareness, educate each other and work together to protect elders,” he said.
Anyone who suspects elder abuse or caregivers who need assistance caring for a loved one can call 1-800-922-2275 or locally 413-538-9020.