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Signs warning of elder abuse to be posted in City of Lockport as Niagara County group seeks to raise awareness

LOCKPORT – Signs warning about elder abuse will be posted throughout the city in early June, part of the efforts of a new Niagara County group trying to raise awareness of the issue.

Kara M. Donovan, aging and disabilities service coordinator for the county Office for the Aging, said the Niagara County Council on Elder Abuse, which was formed in March, wanted to make a public effort in conjunction with National Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.

Kenneth M. Genewick, director of the Office for the Aging, said the council includes representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, Adult Protective Services, Legal Services for the Elderly, Family and Children’s Service of Niagara and the Office of Mental Health.

“It’s a collection of agencies that work together on elder abuse,” Genewick said.

He said the office received a call from Ellen M. Martin, a Lockport entrepreneur and arts promoter, who wanted help in a campaign against abuse. “She’d asked us to do something in Lockport,” Genewick said.

Donovan said the signs that will sprout across the city will carry the slogans “We Support Elder Justice” and “We Believe Abuse Should Never Be Part of Aging.”

“Right now, we’re focusing on Lockport. We’d like to expand it,” Donovan said.

Donovan said that besides posting the signs in the Main Street median, requests to display the signs will be made to nursing homes and other facilities that house senior citizens. The county ordered 50 signs.

Also, an “Elder Bill of Rights” is to be posted at the sites used for the county’s senior citizens nutrition program, which offers lunches.

Donovan said she is trying to line up a location for a public showing of a documentary on financial abuse of the elderly, who are prime targets for scams.

“It’s state-approved, well-known. It’s good information,” said Donovan, who said the movie might be screened in late June, about the same time she is to appear on a cable television show sponsored by the Dale Association, a Lockport nonprofit agency that sponsors numerous senior programs.

A 2011 study by the Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University showed that 260,000 older adults in New York State have been victims of at least one form of elder abuse – emotional, physical or financial. Nine in 10 perpetrators of financial abuse are family members, according to a study by a group of doctors.