Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Elder Abuse Bill into Law in New York
According to a recent article in USA Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new bill into law that will help to prevent nursing home abuse and elder neglect. The law “will require state agencies to develop guidelines to help healthcare providers be able to better identify cases of elder abuse, self-neglect, and maltreatment.” Given that there are many seniors who are subject to elder abuse and neglect, and that numerous incidents are not reported, it is essential for healthcare providers to learn more about putting a stop to nursing home abuse and thinking about ways to prevent it.
Some of the features of the new law include the following:
- Developing ways to better identify signs of elder abuse in the healthcare setting;
- Developing screening tools and questions for healthcare providers when they see an elderly client in order to root out instances of abuse; and
- Providing additional resources for healthcare providers to contact when there are suspected cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.
The new guidelines will be developed through a joint effort by the Office for the Aging, the Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services. Passing the bill was a bipartisan effort in the New York State Legislature.
According to one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, Dutchess County, “this bill will go a long way in helping to empower our medical professionals to play a proactive role in preventing elder abuse, an epidemic that too often flies under the radar.” Another sponsor of the bill, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, Broome County, emphasizes that the “new guidelines will allow people who regularly interact with seniors to know exactly how to identify potential abuse and the process for reporting cases.”
Getting the Facts About Elder Abuse in New York
A 2011 study of elder abuse in New York determined that “for each reported incident, there are 24 unreported cases.” Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse, and neglect.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the following are some important statistics concerning elder abuse across the country:
- About one out of every 10 Americans aged 60 and older, or 10% of that population, have been victims of elder abuse in some capacity;
- Experts believe that number is low, and that as many as 5 million older adults suffer some form of elder abuse every year;
- It is possible that only one out of every 14 incidents of elder abuse, or about 7%, get reported;
- In about 60% of all reported elder abuse cases, the perpetrators are members of the victim’s family; and
- Social isolation and mental impairment, such as from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, are the two major factors that make older adults vulnerable to elder abuse.
If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your situation.