AARP NY State Director Beth Finkel speaks at the State Capitol complex, flanked by AARP volunteers, Alzheimer’s Association New York State Coalition Executive Director Jane B. Ginsburg, Senate Aging Committee Chair Sue Serino, Senator David Valesky and Assembly Aging Committee Chair Donna Lupardo

Sens. Serino, Valesky, Assemblywoman Lupardo, Alzheimer’s Association Join AARP, Volunteers from Across NY to Seek Common Ground This Year

ALBANY, N.Y. – Leaders of aging policy in the New York State Legislature stood with AARP and other aging advocates today and pledged to work toward passing bi-partisan legislation to combat elder financial exploitation before the end of the 2017 state legislative session.

Legislative Aging Committee Chairs Senator Sue Serino and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator David Valesky – a former Aging Chair – joined AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and 100 AARP volunteers from across New York at the Legislative Office Building to announce their commitment to work together on a comprehensive bill that can be enacted this year. New York StateWide Senior Action Council, LiveOn NY and Lifespan of Greater Rochester also indicated their commitment to the effort.

Elder financial exploitation is a growing problem; the number of reported cases of financial exploitation increased by more than 35% between 2010 and 2014, according to a study last year by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Over one third of victims showed signs of dementia. The New York StateWide Senior Action Council, LiveOn NY and Lifespan of Greater Rochester also indicated their commitment to the effort.

Financial exploitation of older adults is the most common form of elder abuse, and the OCFS’s Bureau of Adult Services estimates that elder financial exploitation in New York costs $1.5 billion a year.

With 100 AARP members from across New York at the Capitol today to lobby lawmakers on elder financial exploitation and other issues, AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association’s New York State Coalition and the Statewide Senior Action Council announced their support, at minimum, for increased efforts to train professionals to improve detection of dementia and to help financial institutions stop fraudulent transactions and report them to authorities.

“As our population ages, elder financial exploitation is on the rise. It’s time to stop this shameful crime and protect older New Yorkers and the assets they’ve worked a lifetime to secure,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We’re pleased that Senators Serino and Valesky and Assemblywoman Lupardo are joining with AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and Statewide Senior Action Council today to pledge to work toward a bi-partisan agreement this legislative session. We need a multi-disciplinary approach with everyone at the table: law enforcement, consumer groups, patient advocates and the financial industry. Older New Yorkers’ livelihoods are at stake. There’s no time to waste.”

“Taking advantage of a vulnerable older New Yorker–a New Yorker who has spent a lifetime building their savings–is a particularly abhorrent crime,” said Senate Aging Committee Chair Sue Serino. “Combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation has been my priority since being named Aging Chair and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our seniors have the resources they need to remain free from harm and safe from abuse. Once again, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to step up for seniors and do right by them by passing legislation that will play a direct role in ensuring their health and safety.”

“We are seeing increasing incidences of elder abuse, and we must do all we can to stop this disturbing trend,” said Senator David Valesky. “The legislation that I sponsor would establish new protections for our elderly citizens and give law enforcement officials an additional tool to pursue and prosecute those who would take advantage of and harm adults who are unable to protect themselves.”

“Elder abuse can take many forms, but the financial exploitation of seniors is rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent forms,” said Assembly Aging Committee Chair Donna Lupardo. “Last year, New York State Office of Children and Family Services report on Financial Exploitation reported a 35% percent increase in cases of senior financial exploitation from 2010 to 2014, and there are an even greater number of cases which go unreported. While proposals have been around for many years, it’s time the Assembly and Senate come together and find common ground on the issue. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to pass legislation before end of session.”

“The Alzheimer’s Association, New York State Coalition is pleased that AARP, and so many of our partner organizations, are working together with the legislature to strengthen protections from financial exploitation for our seniors in New York with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment,” said Jane B. Ginsburg, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, New York State Coalition. “There are 390,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s. We must do everything we can to safeguard them from being taking advantage of. Establishing training guidelines with stakeholders for bank employees is the first step in this important process.”

“We need an innovative approach by creating an interdisciplinary program that will work to stop senior fraud through prevention, education, and services,” said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director of New York StateWide Senior Action Council. “In this age of automation and constant changes in the way that government and merchants conduct business, scams and frauds have taken on a larger life. Whether it is the tax scam, identity theft, medical ID thefts, deed thefts as well as outright robbery, at StateWide, we find that when we partner with as many government and community agencies as possible, we are more successful in getting optimal results. Reports on the cost of financial elder abuse to New York seniors come to a whopping $1.5 billion each year. As the number of retirees grow in this state at exponential rates, it is important to address their needs and adapt the infrastructure that is serving what will soon be fully 25% of our New York’s population.”

“LiveOn NY has long advocated for meaningful legislation to address the issue of financial exploitation,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. “Given the enormity of this problem, at a cost of at least $1.5 billion annually to New York state and individual older New Yorkers, and its devastating impact on older adults, we applaud the Assembly, Senate and Governor for focusing on this issue. We are proud to work together with a strong coalition of aging advocates to ask the legislature for changes that would provide a seamless reporting and disclosure process between banks, APS and law enforcement, which will stop the bleeding of older New Yorkers’ financial resources.”

“Lifespan is thrilled to partner with a group of statewide agencies to bring attention to the serious issue of elder financial exploitation,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. “We know that financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse and costs victims and the state billions of dollars. We are working together to ask the legislature for changes so that banks can hold a suspicious transaction for further investigation, report suspected abuse to the right authorities and provide immunity to banks for reporting. Our ultimate goal is to help older adults in New York State live fulfilling lives free of abuse and exploitation.”

The advocacy groups have voiced support for various bills aimed at fighting senior financial exploitation, including S1093/ A6099 (Valesky, Serino/Lupardo) and A6395 (Lupardo). Today, the legislative sponsors joined the advocacy groups to announce their support for negotiating a comprehensive bill before the legislative session ends next month.

Governor Andrew Cuomo included anti-elder financial exploitation provisions in his state budget proposal this year but none made it into the final budget enacted last month.

Contact: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

 

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