Elder abuse is unfortunately common in New York State. There is also evidence to suggest that incidences of elder abuse are under-reported. According to NYC.gov, “One-third of elder abuse victims suffer from depression, anxiety or trauma, making it difficult for them to take steps to address the abuse.” A 2010 New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study determined that only one in 24 incidences of elder abuse is reported to the appropriate authorities.
To make matters worse, New York is one of three states that has no mandatory reporting laws. In many states, certain professionals, like healthcare providers and nursing home staff, are required by law to report suspected elder abuse. The elderly of New York State may rely on their caretakers and family members to speak up if they identify the signs of abuse. Family members and caretakers, however, are the most common perpetrators of elder abuse.
New York has laws in place designed to protect the elderly from criminal abuse, as well as civil penalties for various types of elder abuse, fraud, and neglect. New Yorkers should know their rights as well as what to do in case they suspect elder abuse and neglect.
New York Penal Code Regarding Elder Abuse
Review the full list of legal statutes addressing elder abuse in New York State on the Department of Justice website.
New York Civil Elder Abuse Laws
Civil elder abuse covers physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse, as well as both passive and active neglect.
- NY CLS Soc Serv § 473: Passive neglect means the non-willful failure of a caregiver to fulfill caretaking functions. This includes but is not limited to abandonment or denial of food-related services because of inadequate caregiver knowledge.
New York Criminal Elder Abuse
- N.Y. Penal Law § 260.34 states that endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in the first degree is a class D felony.
- NY. Penal Law § 260.32: A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person if they cause physical injury to an elderly person, either with intent, negligence, or recklessness.
Scams with Elderly Victims in New York State
Scams targeting the elderly are on the rise. The New York Department of State has warned of several scams targeting the elderly. These involve calls and emails from criminals impersonating law enforcement, funeral home directors, and IRS representatives. Scammers may even impersonate the elderly person’s grandchildren.
- NY Penal § 190.65 & § 260.31: In New York, individuals are guilty of a scheme to defraud in the first degree when he or she engages in conduct with intent to defraud ten or more persons or to obtain property from ten or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses.
New York Financial Elder Abuse
The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that financial elder abuse was the most common type of elder abuse. It is estimated that approximately 42 out of every 1,000 elderly New Yorkers experiences some type of elder financial abuse.
- Elder financial abuse may involve the misappropriation of funds by financial advisors or loved ones. Misappropriation might include making unauthorized withdrawals or abusing a power of attorney to make changes to wills or beneficiary status.
- Financial advisors may execute excessive transactions in an elderly person’s account to generate more commissions. A stock broker may also recommend investments with huge risks to earn higher commissions. The recommendation of overly risky investments violates federal securities regulations.
Civil Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation
New York Civil elder abuse law addresses financial exploitation. NY CLS Soc Serv § 473 defines financial exploitation as the improper use of an elder adult’s funds, property, or resources by another individual. This includes:
- Falsifying records
- Coerced property
- Denial of access to assets
New York Resources for the Elderly
Various state and city programs can help elderly New Yorkers recover from abuse and maintain their health and well-being.
For instance, the PROTECT initiative (Providing Options to Elderly Clients Together), which is offered through the New York Department for the Aging, can provide victims with mental health treatment through the Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Other city programs offer meal delivery services, housekeeping, and counseling on long-term care issues.
Where to Report Abuse?
New Yorkers should report elder abuse to relevant state agencies.
- An Ombudsman advocates for nursing home residents. Call 855-582-6769 to speak with your New York State Ombudsman.
- There is a non-emergency helpline to report elder abuse: Call 844-746-6905 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact the New York Department of Financial Services if you believe an elderly person may be the victim of elder financial abuse: 800-342-3736
- Consumer Helpline for Victims of Scams: 800-697-1220
- New York Adult Protective Services: 1-844-697-3505
When to Speak with an Attorney
Every elderly person who has suffered abuse deserves a voice in the legal system. Speak to an elder abuse attorney to determine if you have a case for a civil or criminal court. Depending on what type of claim you make, you may only have a few years to file before the statute of limitations applies.