A new program in New York City is training doormen who work in apartment buildings to watch for elder abuse.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention, part of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, developed the program, which offers free training for doormen, porters, concierges and other building staff, at the building where they work.
Joy Solomon, the director of the Weinberg Center, said that many elderly people who were being abused did not come forward on their own, so advocates realized they would have to reach out to others who might be likely to spot the signs of abuse. The center has already helped to educate people such as estate lawyers, speech therapists, and those who deliver hot meals to seniors. Now building staff are being enlisted to help as well.
Many buildings in the city have a growing population of elderly residents. An analysis of census data by Queens College found that by 2040, an estimated 21 percent of adults in New York City will be age 60 or older, an increase from 17 percent in 2010.
At a training she led recently, Ms. Solomon told of an elderly resident of an Upper East Side apartment building, who was taken advantage of by a woman. Building staff witnessed the woman removing valuables from the man’s apartment, but did not step forward, perhaps because they did not want to overstep their bounds. Solomon said that when a staff member knows that something is wrong, it is important to take action. Several older apartment building residents said they would much prefer that building staff say something about a situation that does not appear right, rather than staying quiet out of a fear of prying into someone else’s business.
For elderly residents who do not have frequent visits from friends and family, a doorman may be the first person to notice an injury, signs of confusion, or other evidence that the person needs help.
Solomon said that the training would be provided initially to buildings with large populations of older people, but would eventually be available to anyone requesting it.