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Jan 21, 2014 11:14 AM EST

NYC Doormen Trained To Detect Senior Abuse

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"Doormen know everything that's going on," said Joy Solomon, director of the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home in the Bronx. That's why Solomon leads training seminars teaching them to detect senior abuse, the Kansas City Star reported.

Is elderly abuse really a problem? It's difficult to say, given just 4 percent of cases are brought to the police, according to Solomon.

Several years ago, a grant won by her center led to a partnership with the New York City builders' union. She's been training its workers to detect physical, psychological, and, to a degree, financial abuse ever since.

Based on the Star's article, one of Solomon's primary teaching tools is to simply retell past crimes and to point out the warning signs that could have possibly prevented an incident. Most of the examples are financially-based. In one extreme case, an elderly woman's son stole her prosthetic leg and sold it for a large sum.

"It got him money and it kept her isolated and dependent on him," Solomon said.

That might seem like an unusual story, but its basic premise is fairly common: younger and more able members of the population who take advantage of elderly citizens for financial gain.

One basic trick is to keep in seemingly innocuous communication with a building's older residents.  For one of Solomon's examples, if a senior's son or daughter leaves the apartment with a possibly expensive object, like a painting, the doorman could casually mention it to the senior the next day.

"You might say, 'I saw your daughter going out with a painting,' and if she says 'What painting?' you know she's unaware," Solomon said.

Keeping in touch with the more vulnerable members of a building is also a nice and easy way to brighten their lives. 

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