News / USA

Doormen Hold Keys to Spot, Prevent Elder Abuse

Elder abuse attorney and specialist Joy Solomon, right, speaks during a class at a condominium in New York, Jan. 7, 2014, on teaching doormen and building staff how to identify and what to do if they spot cases of elder abuse.
Elder abuse attorney and specialist Joy Solomon, right, speaks during a class at a condominium in New York, Jan. 7, 2014, on teaching doormen and building staff how to identify and what to do if they spot cases of elder abuse.
Faiza Elmasry
Elder abuse is a hidden crime. Seniors are vulnerable to financial and psychological manipulation as well as physical abuse and neglect, and may be so confused or fearful, they don't ask for help. That's why a New York social welfare group is training doormen about the early signs of the problem so they can detect and report it. The idea behind this approach is simple: every set of eyes counts.

As a long-time doorman at a Manhattan apartment building, Joshua Saldivias has gotten to know the residents. After taking this training, he said, he could use that familiarity to help, when needed.

“It opened us up to how frequent elderly abuse goes on. At least now I have some type of procedure to go by, if I notice something I know the next step,” he said.

“It was a good thing to do, we’re members in the community," said Dennis Brady, an executive with the management company that runs Saldivias' building and several others in the city. He said his staff could be a valuable resource for observing and detecting abuse.

“The men in the lobby, the doormen, the concierge, and even some of the personnel who work in the buildings deal and interact with tenants on a daily basis. They see them coming and going. They see them when they come to collect their mail, they announce their guests, [and] they help them with their deliveries. So our men are very familiar with our tenants,” said Brady.

According to a government study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice, nearly 6 million cases of elder abuse were reported in 2010, nearly 10 percent of the senior population. No one knows how many more cases were never reported. That made it impossible to know the extent of the problem, said Joy Solomon, Director of the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention. In the training seminar for the doormen, she urged them to be alert for signs of psychological, physical and financial exploitation.

“If you have an older person who lived in the building for 20 years and relatively suddenly that person starts to become much more withdrawn or not really engaging with the doorman or seems upset. The older adult may appear unkempt or inappropriately dressed or malnourished or maybe there are unexplained physical injuries, maybe bruises," said Solomon.

"If someone says I can’t pay my rent anymore. A sudden loss of financial independence can also be an indicator, maybe someone coming into their life or the older adult seems kind of fearful or frightened and when the older adult is asked or questioned, the other person speaks for them. Certainly none of these are absolutes that the person in being abused or neglected or exploited, but they are red flags that there is something to be observant of,” she added.

If they see one or more of those signs, doormen are encouraged to report it to the building management. But, Solomon stressed, that didn't mean interfering with the seniors' right to live independently or engage in relationships.

“In the last training, there was a resident that was there, an older resident. The feedback from her was, ‘You know, I don’t want someone interfering into my life, but [it's good] to know that there are people around me who care for me or would support me if something happens to me.' I think she felt really good about that,” she said.

Solomon said elder abuse was not limited to the United States.

“When I travel to other places to give talks about elder abuse what I learn is that yes, abuse, neglect and exploitation is happening all over the world. What we know about elder abuse is that it’s not accepted in any culture, but different cultures’ view reporting to authority is different. In different cultures they feel like getting involved in someone’s business is inappropriate or that you can bring shame to your own family,” she said.

Staying connected to the community, she said, was key in preventing elder abuse.

“Belonging to some kind of community organization whether religious affiliation or some kind of social group or community center, that really helps community, family know you’re okay,” she said.

Solomon said doormen were not the only people who should get this training. Lawyers, social workers, therapists, physicians and law enforcement officers should also be trained so the entire community is able to recognize and act to prevent elder abuse.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs