By Jenifer McKim | New England Center for Investigate Reporting | October 31, 2014
A state lawmaker is urging Bay State officials to do more to help the growing number of exploited and abused elders in Massachusetts.
Rep. James O’ Day, a Worcester Democrat and chair of the House Elder Affairs Committee, said colleagues should act on a recent state report that documented the rising risks to seniors, especially financial exploitation suffered by women who are 80 years old and older.
The report, by the 19-member Elder Protective Services Commission, laid out a blueprint to help seniors, including better training of people who work with elders and an awareness campaign to educate the public about the potential for abuse.
First on the list were recommendations to help elder caseworkers, not generally experts in financial services, to scout out financial abuse through the help of “multidisciplinary teams,” including lawyers, financial specialists and lenders.
The 31-page report also recommended an awareness campaign to educate the public, similar to campaigns revolving around domestic and sexual violence.
O’Day said he didn’t know how much new efforts would cost. However, he said that the state Office of Elder Affairs has suffered budget cuts related to training since the recession of 2009. He hopes to see funding at least get back to original levels — and money to fund new projects.
Along with state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Middlesex District Democrat and Senate chair of the elders’ commission, O’Day said one of the state’s most vulnerable populations need to be watched over more carefully.
“The Commonwealth needs to be adequately prepared to prevent, recognize and respond to cases of abuse in an effort to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens,” the two said in a written statement.