PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary, Jason Kavulich, recently convened a roundtable meeting at Telespond Senior Services in Scranton with state, judicial, and local leaders. The focus of the discussion was elder abuse victims and how to prevent older adults from falling victim to such abuse.
Secretary Kavulich led the conversation, emphasizing the need for increased attention on older adult victims, prevention alternatives, and best practice standards in guardianship cases. He highlighted the importance of aligning Pennsylvania’s practices with national policy standards.
“Older Pennsylvanians have worked hard and been active in their communities all their lives,” said Secretary Kavulich. “They deserve dignity and respect, not to become victims of abuse or financial exploitation by a loved one or someone they know and trust.”
Joining Kavulich were State Representatives Bridget Kosierowski, Kyle Donahue, and Kyle Mullins; State Senator Rosemary Brown; Administrative Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Lois Murphy, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Both judges serve in leadership positions on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Advisory Council on Elder Justice.
Also participating were Mark Powell, Lackawanna County District Attorney; Sara McDonald, Director of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, and Amy Grevera, Acting Director at Telespond Senior Services.
The roundtable attendees also toured Telespond’s soon-to-be-completed older adult advocacy center. This first-of-its-kind center in the Commonwealth is specifically designed to serve older adults who are victims of abuse or neglect in Lackawanna and five surrounding counties.
The new center will act as a state and national model to assist elder abuse victims. It will offer a person-centered multi-disciplinary approach to abuse investigations, care and treatment plans, and education for older adults. The center will also provide emergency respite and short-term transitional living space, featuring four bedroom units, a medical station, bathing accessibility, a lounge, kitchen area, and laundry facilities.
Pennsylvania’s Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA) establishes a framework for reporting elder abuse, receiving and investigating those reports, and planning to reduce risk to vulnerable older adults. More than 35,000 investigations under OAPSA are completed annually in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging encourages anyone who suspects an older adult is a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to call the Protective Services Helpline at 800-490-8505, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.