Authorities announce new local coalition to fight elder abuse

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Wednesday marked Elder Abuse Awareness Day and local authorities took the opportunity to formally announce the creation of a new task force to fight the growing issue.

The Jefferson Area Coalition to End Elder Abuse will be made up of several law enforcement agencies, the FBI, JABA, Adult Protective services and more.

Together, the coalition will communicate and cooperate to better prevent, identify and prosecute elder abuse and exploitation.

"Ten thousand Americans turn 65 every day so the number of older Americans grows daily as does the threat to our elderly population," said Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci.

Tracci said the threat comes in the form of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.

"Senior citizens are very special," said Betsy Bean, who volunteers at the Senior Center in Albemarle County. "We all have limited incomes and we value what we do have. We do not want to be taken advantage of."

"We all have an equal role to play in this," said Doris Gelbman.

Gelbman is an attorney with years of experience in elder law who, along with Tracci, is spearheading the new coalition effort.

One of Gelbman's first elder cases involved a man in his late seventies whose cousin took advantage of his good credit to steal upwards of $50,000.

"[For example] the cousin had gotten him to go to the bank and sign a mortgage pledging his home and the cousin walked away with $30,000," said Gelbman.

She called it the sort of case she hopes the new task force will bring to justice.

"It took me five years to bring this about and if I had an organization like this one at that time, that guy would be in jail today," she said.

"I think it's wonderful," said Bean. "We need people and agencies like this to look out after the seniors."

"We cant control getting older but we can control whether we provide our seniors with the dignity and security they deserve," added Tracci.

The coalition plans to meet quarterly but anticipates communicating on an almost daily basis.

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