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Conn. Launches Elder Justice Hotline To Combat Abuse And Neglect

The state announced Monday it has launched an elder justice hotline in response to an influx of allegations of abuse and maltreatment of older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotline, which was announced by Attorney General William Tong and the Coalition for Elder Justice, will link elderly residents to resources and information to proactively reduce different kinds of abuse, including abandonment and financial exploitation.

Older adults found it difficult to get connected to the proper care they needed last year, but the hotline creates a centralized effort to quickly provide information and aid to more people than the coalition could previously manage. Dorian Long, director of social work services at the state Department of Social Services, said she is excited the hotline will connect people to the support they need.

“As far as elder maltreatment is concerned, at the Department of Social Services we administered support to nearly 8,000 clients last year and received allegations in excess of 11,000,” Long said, referring to 2020 data. The allegations involved neglect, financial exploitation, physical abuse and sexual abuse, Long said, and she anticipates that the numbers will continue to increase as people begin to use the hotline.

Mairead Painter, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, said sometimes people will give up on finding help if they get frustrated after trying many different numbers. After a while the process can stop moving forward. This hotline eliminates that obstacle.

“Providing accurate information is also incredibly important,” Painter said. “It is one of the primary goals of this private-public partnership that is the Coalition of Elder Justice here in Connecticut.”

Michelle Seagull, commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection, and Amy Porter, director of Aging and Disability Services, helped announce the launch of the hotline.

“We are very thankful for the Attorney General’s office in taking the lead and filling the gap of creating a single point of entry,” Seagull said.

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