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Department of Aging Secretary Spotlights Efforts to Protect Older Pennsylvanians from Abuse, Tours Site of First-of-its-Kind Center in the Commonwealth for Older Adults

06/20/2024

Governor Josh Shapiro’s 2024-25 proposed budget includes funding to prevent isolation in older adults, improve their health and well-being, and reduce the need for calls to the elder abuse helpline.

Scranton, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) Secretary Jason Kavulich recently joined state and local leaders at Telespond Senior Services to address elder abuse and spotlight what's being done locally and statewide to protect older adults. Secretary Kavulich discussed the recently released Aging Our Way, PA – a comprehensive 10-year vision for improving connections within communities to increase access to a variety of services for older adults to stay safe and thrive as they age.

Among PDA's funding requests in Governor Josh Shapiro's 2024-25 proposed budget is $11.7 million to begin implementing Aging Our Way, PA

“For years, we have seen a rise in financial exploitation cases of older adults and the continued high rate of self-neglect cases. This year one investment improves the aging services infrastructure to focus on connection and prevention," said Secretary Kavulich. “We are also requesting $10 million to help strengthen the Area Agency on Aging workforce. More feet on the ground, more services, reduced waiting lists means more connections to older adults and more interventions to prevent isolation, improve health and well-being and reduce the need for calls to our elder abuse helpline. We are seeing strong legislative support for these initiatives, and we are busy working with all our partners, including the Area Agencies on Aging, to get these asks over the finish line."

Secretary Kavulich noted the hard work the 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) across the Commonwealth do to deliver a multitude of services touching the lives of thousands of older adults each day. Protective Services is one of the Department's most critical services, and it is some of the toughest work the AAAs oversee. Over the past five years, the Department has seen a 67 percent increase in reports of suspected abuse – and a 21 percent increase over the previous year. With the rise in financial exploitation, cases have become more complex.

Following the event, Secretary Kavulich and attendees toured the construction site of  Telespond's Older Adult Advocacy Center – a first-of-its-kind center in the Commonwealth specifically designed to serve older adults who are victims of abuse or neglect in Lackawanna and surrounding counties. It is expected to open this fall.

The advocacy center will offer a person-centered approach to abuse investigations, care and treatment plans, and education for older adults while providing emergency respite and short-term transitional living space. The center will include four bedroom units along with a medical station, bathing accessibility, a lounge, kitchen area and laundry facilities for abuse victims and will be connected to adult day and personal care services, senior companionship, legal services, transportation and more.

“This facility will change thousands of lives. This innovative model is reflective of Governor Josh Shapiro's vision for the Commonwealth, which prioritizes safe communities where everyone can live with freedom and dignity. The Older Adult Advocacy Center will be designed to serve older adults in the safest, least restrictive way," said Secretary Kavulich.

If you suspect an older adult is the victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, please call the Pennsylvania Department of Aging's Protective Services Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-490-8505.    

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MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Eilber agingcomms@pa.gov

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