Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The Jewish Association for Services for the Aged has noticed more than a twenty percent jump in financial abuse cases of elders over the past two years. City lawmakers and advocates say it's a growing problem.
Mara Schecter is the organization's director. "We see clients where their children move in with them because they're unemployed and then they do not contribute to household expenses," she says, "And even more than that, they exploit the older adults limited income. They take their social security money, they away take their ATM."
Schecter says this trend coincides with the recession.
According to initial findings of a study released by the the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, financial abuse is the leading form of abuse against older adults.
At at City Council hearing Monday, advocates talked about challenges to stopping crimes against seniors. Councilwoman Jessica Lapin, who chairs the Aging Committee, says many victims don't come forward because the perpetrators are usually family members.
"They are ashamed, they feel like they somehow failed in raising that child -- they don't necessarily want to put their own child behind bars.”
The City Council is allocating $800,000 dollars to programs dedicated to the prevention of elder abuse in its current budget.
Victims are encouraged to call the Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center which can be reached by dialing 311.