DMVA Partners with Department of Aging to Protect Older Veterans

Older VeteransImage by Cynthia Petersen

ANNVILLE, PA — The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) recently partnered with the Department of Aging (PDA) on successful webinars geared toward educating veteran advocates on how to identify and properly report abuse, neglect or exploitation of older veterans.

More than half of Pennsylvania’s veterans are age 60 and older. Factors that put older veterans at risk include social isolation, physical impairment, cognitive impairment, mental illness, substance use disorder, accessible assets, sense of entitlement by family/caregiver, dependence on caregiver, and intergenerational abuse history.

The four free 60-minute webinars, presented by DMVA and the Protective Services Division at PDA, educated advocates on the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA) law. The webinars focused on how to recognize signs of abuse (injury, deprivation, harassment), neglect (failure to provide essential goods and services) and exploitation (un-welcomed conduct by a caretaker), and how to make a report.

While the law requires an employee or administrator of a facility to report suspected abuse, veteran advocates are not mandated reporters. The free webinars are an important tool to ensure that those who care and advocate for our veterans know the signs of neglect and abuse and how to properly report concerns. More than 230 veteran advocates participated in the webinars.

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“We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Aging and other veteran advocates to assist our veterans. This webinar series served as a great means to educate and inform our citizens about the vulnerabilities experienced by many aging veterans,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s acting adjutant general and acting head of the DMVA. “Our veterans have earned and deserve our endless support and appreciation for their service, and we need to do everything possible to ensure they never experience any injustice.”

“The Older Adults Protective Services Act plays an essential role in much of what the Department of Aging does. Learning about protective services is beneficial to advocates, for our veterans, and for all seniors to understand how OAPSA helps to protect Pennsylvania’s vulnerable aging population,” Secretary of Aging Robert Torres said. “I am proud of our partnership with DMVA to present these informative webinars on protective services. DMVA has also been a great collaborator on our Financial Exploitation of Older Adults Task Force, which brought together members from the government, aging, legal, financial, law enforcement, and healthcare sectors to create practical solutions to prevent financial exploitation of older adults and mitigate the impact of such exploitation.”

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With the ongoing rise of financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse, the Department of Aging is calling for critical updates to OAPSA. According to the department, the volume, type, and scope of abuse has increased dramatically in the more than 30 years since OAPSA became PDA’s legal guide to protecting older Pennsylvanians. According to the department’s 2019-2020 Older Adults Protective Services Annual Report, cases of suspected elder abuse has increased 80% over the previous five years.

If someone is faced with the decision of caring for an older family member, they should examine their own ability to handle the responsibility as well as the impact on other family members by:

  • Being realistic about what they can do.
  • Knowing their financial resources and what it will cost to care for the person.
  • Seeking outside help and support groups.
  • Looking around their home. Could an older or disabled person move around easily?
  • Learning if other family members will occasionally lend a hand.
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If you suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older veteran, you can file a report by calling 1-800-490-8505.

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