County Human Services


Elder Abuse Task Force Forms in York County

The York County Area Agency on Aging has announced the establishment of a new task force charged with combatting the abuse of older adults in York County.

Area Agency on Aging Director Dianna Benaknin and District Attorney Tom Kearney have formally announced the formation of the Elder Abuse Task Force at the York County Board of Commissioner's weekly meeting on Wednesday, November 5.

The new venture is being done in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Institute on Protective Services at Temple University and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

The Area Agency on Aging routinely investigates reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation (theft) of older adults.  Upon completion of these investigations, the older adult is often found to not only be in need of the assistance provided by the Agency, but he/she has also been criminally victimized.

"Too often these crimes go unrecognized or unreported, and there are also challenges with prosecution," Benaknin said.  "It is an unfortunate reality that older adults are increasingly victims of elder abuse in our community."

The purpose of the Elder Abuse Task Force is to better identify the needs of York County's older adults, provide outreach to older adults and their families to better protect them and provide education and training to community leaders.

Examples of mental and physical abuse of the elderly include intimidation, ridicule, isolation, neglect, terrorization and sexual abuse.  Additionally, financial exploitation is becoming more prevalent as scam artists and even caregivers engage in identity theft by stealing personal infomration, such as social security, credit card and bank account information.

Recently, the Area Agency on Aging worked with law enforcement on a case where an older adult was facing eviction from a personal care home due to unpaid bills.  An investigation led to the older adult's great-niece, also her power of attorney.  The great-niece had stolen $300,000 from her over a four-year period.  Her great-niece was eventually successfully prosecuted and convicted for theft, and restitution was ordered.

While this is one example of a positive resolution, with more than 92,490 Pennsylvanians over the age of 60 in York County, there continues to be an increase if the exploitation of some of our older and more vulnerable population.  In 2012-2013 there were 639 reports of need for protective services, an increase of 28 percent from the 499 reports in 2008-2009.

The Task Force seeks to coordinate and synchronize efforts from many different disciplines including law enforcement, the York County District Attorney's Office, the legal industry, banking and other organizations and businesses that routinely interact with older adults.