A new task force will fight the abuse of elderly people in York County. York County District Attorney Tom Kearney and the York County Area Agency on Aging made the announcement Wednesday at the weekly county commissioners’ meeting.
Over the last three years, York County has seen a 28% increase in elderly abuse reports. With 96,000 people over the age of 60 in York County, there are a lot of potential victims.
"It's a shame that we prey on those among community who are weak," said Kearney. Members of his office will serve on the task force. "It’s a shame that we prey on those among community who are weak, but we do, and that’s something that we in the District Attorney’s office and the Area Agency on Aging needs to address. This allows us to coordinate our resources and ensure that those prosecutions are done well," said Kearney.
The goal of the task force is to better coordinate and prosecute elder abuse cases.
"We're seeing a huge increase in financial exploitation," said York County Area Agency on Aging Director, Dianna Benaknin. She has worked for the agency for 30 years. She has seen abuse at the hands of family members, caregivers, and even scammers. While abuse can be physical or emotional, she says the most common is financial. "We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars dry up in a short amount of time," said Benaknin.
Kearney highlighted a recent case where a woman's great-niece, and power-of-attorney, stole $300,000 from her over four years.
"Elder abuse is part of a vulnerable population, like children. But, unlike children, they have usually have resources, and those resources become the subject of exploitation," said Kearney.
The hope is that more attention to the issue will prompt more people to call and report suspected abuse. "My concern is that there is still so many people out there that are victims of some type of abuse that we never hear about," said Benaknin.
The first Elder Abuse Task Force meeting will be Wednesday November 12, 2014.
For more information on the Elder Abuse Task Force click here