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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 22, 2019

Launch Of Media Campaign To Prevent And Report Elder Abuse

(San Juan, PR) - The US Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, the PR Department of Family Affairs, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly and AARP Puerto Rico, have joined efforts to create a media campaign to educate the general public on the prevention and reporting of elder abuse.

The public service campaign called Abuse can NOT be ignored. Indifference is abuse seeks to raise awareness about the abuse of the elderly and its various forms, in addition to publicizing the hotline of the PR Department of Family Affairs to report cases of abuse or suspected abuse. The campaign also aims to create awareness that preventing and reporting elder abuse is everyone’s responsibility. The public is encouraged to provide confidential information to law enforcement authorities, both at the federal and state levels.

“This educational campaign is the result of the joint efforts of federal and state agencies, the private sector, AARP of Puerto Rico and local media outlets. We commend all those who collaborated to develop and launch this campaign. Preventing and reporting cases of elder abuse is everyone’s responsibility. Together we can protect our seniors against those who take advantage of them,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

“Prosecutors from the Department of Justice have filed 154 charges against individuals who committed mistreatment, neglect, threat, financial exploitation, or fraud against the elderly in the last year. We know there are more situations and we want all of them to be reported in order to process the offenders and protect the victims. We trust that this campaign will raise awareness so that cases are reported and, better yet, help prevent cases of abuse against elderly people from occurring,” said Secretary of Justice, Wanda Vázquez-Garced.

The Secretary of the PR Department of Family Affairs, Glorimar Andújar-Matos, indicated that there are many programs available to assist the elderly, among them: adult services, adult substitute care, auxiliary services at home, multiple activities for the elderly, protection services, prevention of mistreatment to elderly people and adults with disabilities, support and guidance programs for grandparents and grandmothers raising their grandchildren, and mentoring with adoptive grandparents.

“The abuse and neglect of our elders occurs more frequently than is reported. It can occur through an omission or an action that results in harm that endangers their well-being and safety. Situations such as physical or mental health conditions place them in a state of vulnerability that requires our immediate intervention. We encourage family members and the community to be alert and report any situation to the hotline available 24 hours a day, (787) 749-1333,” said Andújar-Matos.

José Acarón, state director of AARP PR said: “This initiative is urgently needed to raise awareness among all generations that you cannot attempt against the dignity of the elderly, or anyone. Older people have the right and power to make their decisions and live their lives without being coerced, minimized, or used for the benefit of others. Seniors are a social asset, not an ATM machine, nor are they owned by anyone, even if they are family.”

Doctor Carmen Delia Sánchez-Salgado, head of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly, indicated that the elderly population in Puerto Rico is subject to marginalization and prejudice, both actions that lead to isolation and indifference. Marginalized populations are exposed to vulnerability, often leading to abuse. The problem is not specifically marginality or exclusion towards our elder population, but the fact that our society allows it. We live in a society that becomes indifferent towards mistreatment and thereby facilitates it. On the other hand, despite the fact that most elderly people live in family settings, it is precisely within these scenarios that abuse and mistreatment towards them takes place. It is our citizens’ responsibility to report suspected abuse and acts of mistreatment towards this population.

We are thankful to the media outlets that will be providing Public Service during this campaign: GFR Media; WKAQ 580 AM; Uno Radio Group; WAPA Radio 680 AM; WIAC 740 AM; Radio Paz 810 AM and Radio Oro 92.5 FM; Radio Isla 1320 AM; SBS; WIPR 940 AM; and Allegro 91.3 FM.

The campaign Abuse can NOT be ignored. Indifference is abuse stems from the Elder Justice Initiative, a program implemented by the U.S. Department of Justice in its 94 districts nationwide. The interagency group in the District of Puerto Rico includes the following: US Attorney’s Office; PR Department of Justice; PR Department of Family Affairs; Office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly; AARP Puerto Rico; FBI; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Health, Office of the Inspector General; U.S. Housing Department, Office of the Inspector General; Social Security Administration; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Office of the U.S. Trustee; PR Department of Health; Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions; Public Corporation for Supervision and Insurance of Cooperatives of Puerto Rico (COSSEC); Office of the Insurance Commissioner; Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services (ASSMCA); Puerto Rico Bar Association; Association of Owners of Long-Term Care Centers; Puerto Rico Business Emergency Operations Center (PR-BEOC).

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Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Component(s): 
Updated April 22, 2019