Elder abuse prevention protects and empowers older Philadelphians
By Bill Conallen
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people over the age of 65 in Philadelphia is expected to increase by 28% by 2030, so too will the need for protective services to help those who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation. PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services is a vital resource for older adults throughout the city who need help and support in these difficult situations.
In 1987, the Older Adults Protective Services Act designated resources to protect older adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The following year, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) created its Older Adult Protective Services unit to investigate reports of elder abuse in Philadelphia. Since then, over 50,000 older Philadelphians have received supports and services to prevent, protect and detect elder abuse.
Older Adult Protective Services is a specialized team within PCA that provides a range of protective services. It was further bolstered in 2018 when PCA secured funds from the Victims of Crime Act grant, creating the Victims Services Program. The program’s primary mission is to serve older adults who have been a victim of a crime.
“Our goal is to help older adults in Philadelphia live safely and independently in their homes and communities,” said Tamikia Morris, director of Older Adult Protective Services at PCA. “Older Adult Protective
Services plays a critical role in achieving this goal by providing essential services to those who are most vulnerable to abuse and neglect.”
One of the most important services that Older Adult Protective Services provides is investigation. When a report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation is made, the unit assesses the situation to determine what kind of help is needed. This might involve connecting the older adult with medical or mental health services, finding a safe place to stay, or working with law enforcement to stop an abuser.
PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services also provides case management services to older adults who are experiencing abuse or neglect. Staff will work with the older adult and their caregiver to develop a plan of care that addresses the older adult’s needs and ensures their safety. They provide ongoing support and monitoring to ensure that the plan is working and that the older adult is receiving the care they require.
For older adults who could be targeted for financial exploitation, Older Adult Protective Services prevents victimization by teaching older adults how to identify financial exploitation and by empowering them with knowledge to protect their finances. In cases where victimization has already occurred, the investigation process may involve working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute the perpetrator or helping the older adult to recover lost assets. It also provides education and outreach to older adults and their caregivers to help them recognize the signs of financial exploitation and protect themselves from scams and fraud.
In addition to its direct services to older adults, Older Adult Protective Services also works to educate the community about the importance of elder abuse prevention. This includes training sessions for professionals who work with older adults and outreach to community groups and other organizations. It also partners with other agencies and organizations such as the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Team to raise awareness of elder abuse and to advocate for programs, policies and services that protect older adults.
“We are committed to making sure that every older adult in Philadelphia is able to live safely and with dignity,” said Morris. “We know that there are many challenges facing older adults in today’s urban landscape, but we also know that there is a lot of good work being done to help them. The Older Adult Protective Services unit is proud to be a part of that work, and we will continue to do everything we can to support and protect our city’s older adults.”
Report suspected elder abuse 24/7
If you or someone you know is an older adult experiencing abuse, neglect, abandonment or exploitation, you can contact Older Adult Protective Services by calling PCA’s Helpline at 215-765-9040. Staff are available 24/7 to accept confidential calls to report abuse made by anyone, including the older adult in need.
Bill Conallen is the public relations specialist at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.