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HARRISBURG, Pa. | Recognizing the importance of identifying and understanding elder abuse for one of Pa.’s most vulnerable populations, the Pa. Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts and its elder justice partners hosted a virtual town hall discussion on the matter.

“Protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse and financial exploitation begins by recognizing that this could happen to you, your neighbor or your loved ones,” said Pa. Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd.

“Paying attention to the warning signs of these harmful practices is absolutely critical, since we know that for every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there are often dozens more that never come to light,” she added.

In Pennsylvania, statewide reports of elder abuse have increased by 80% over the past five years according to official data. Isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to making older Pennsylvanians vulnerable to abuse.

Wednesday's discussion is part one of a two-part virtual town hall discussion aimed at understanding and identifying elder abuse, officials say. Part two will follow on June 23, focusing on preventing and responding to financial exploitation.

Panelists that participated in the virtual-town hall included state judges, lawyers and lawmakers, state care workers, testimonials from victims of elder abuse, and more.

Through the discussion, participants said they heard from both victims and panelists about their experiences with elder abuse, what Pennsylvania’s courts and justice partners are doing to address these issues, how to recognize elder abuse, what to do if abuse is suspected and available resources.

This educational event was made possible by partnerships between the Pa. Department of Aging, Pa. Office of Attorney General, Pa. Department of Banking and Securities, SeniorLAW Center and the Pa. Judiciary, officials stated.

View the invitation and register for the financial exploitation town hall online.

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