With the budget debate set to begin next week, we’re taking a look at another important program that helps the commonwealth’s most vulnerable seniors: Elder Protective Services.
Administered by The Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Elder Protective Services is a statewide system for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse, and for providing needed services to abused elders when warranted. This includes the Massachusetts Money Management Program , cosponsored by the AARP Foundation, Mass Home Care, and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
Peg Lyon, director of the Winthrop Housing Authority, has seen the difference the Massachusetts Money Management Program makes. “One of our residents, a gentleman, had a hard time after his wife passed away,” she explained last year at an event honoring the program's volunteers. “This was a man who had money, but couldn’t transfer his funds from savings to checking – he didn’t know how. So, he started bouncing checks. He ultimately lost his health insurance, and because of his advanced age, it was very difficult to get him back on a plan.
“The Massachusetts Money Management Program got him out of the spiral effect of depression and anxiety – helped him to get back on track,” Lyon continued. “These volunteers are heroes to a lot of our residents. They are advocates; they fight health insurance issues; they watch for elder abuse. They help protect very vulnerable people.”
Elder Protective Services are crucial in fighting the wide spectrum of abuse vulnerable elders face on a routine basis:
- physical abuse
- emotional or verbal abuse
- sexual abuse
- financial exploitation
- caretaker neglect
- self-abuse, when a senior is living alone and doesn't properly care for him/herself
The program has suffered from long-time inadequate funding. As a result of declining funds, an ever increasing number requests for assistance are being screened-out simply because there is not enough trained staff to cope with the demand. This carries the potential for tragedies to unfold involving elders who needed but could not be helped because of inadequate Protective Services funding.
Protective Services has long been running a deficit of roughly $3 million a year. Yet, this year Governor Patrick proposed a $4.8 million increase to the program in his budget. This proposed funding would provide much needed help for elders suffering from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
Take advantage of our user-friendly form to contact your representative and urge them to maintain funding that protects vulnerable seniors.
This post is part of our ongoing state budget series:
Past installments: Councils on Aging, Home Care Waiting Lists