February 5, 2013

Weill Cornell Receives Millions to Study Mistreatment of Elders

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To combat elder abuse — an issue the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called a “significant public health problem” — Weill Cornell Medical College received a $13.6 million gift from a charitable foundation last month, according to Weill officials.

The gift will be used to fund more standardized data collection on elder abuse and study effective ways to respond to such forms of abuse, according to Prof. Mark Lachs, medicine, director of the New York City Elder Abuse Center.

According to the CDC, elder maltreatment includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment and financial abuse of people over the age of sixty.

WCMC’s Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology — which conducts research to improve the quality of life for the elderly, according to its website — is one of two institutions to receive the largest portion of a donation from the Irene Diamond Fund to counter elder abuse. WCMC and the American Federation for Aging Research will each receive 34 percent of the $40 million gift. Columbia University and Brown University also recieved funding from the fund for research on aging.

“This donation will be the largest foundation gift ever received by the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine,” said Larry Schafer, vice provost of development at Weill. “We are grateful to be among such a highly-respected group of institutions chosen by the Irene Diamond Fund to receive donations in support of aging.”

WCMC’s Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology will use the gift to expand its Elder Abuse and Neglect project, a project that conducts research on and creates protocols for elder abuse, along with operating the NYC Elder Abuse Center. WCMC has already created a multidisciplinary team to evaluate elder abuse victims in Brooklyn, according to Lachs.

“With this grant, [WCMC’s Elder Abuse and Neglect project] will expand to all the boroughs,” Lachs said.

In addition to its work regarding elder abuse victims, WCMC was a founding partner of the NYC Elder Abuse Center, which aims to improve how professionals, organizations and systems respond to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, according to NYCEAC’s website.

The CDC website states that over 500,000 older adults are believed to be abused or neglected each year in the United States. According to the website, the figure is likely an underestimate “because many victims are unable or afraid to tell the police, family or friends about the violence.”

Original Author: Rebekah Foster