Contact: Megan Thompson, Director of External Relations – 216-658-1881, email@example.com
Cleveland, OH – The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that one in ten seniors are victims of elder abuse. This is likely to be an underestimation, as only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported, in part because older people are often afraid to report cases of abuse to family, friends, or to the authorities. We at Eliza Bryant Village are committed to addressing this growing problem of elder abuse.
While there are local organizations that provide shelter and supports for children, working-age adults and homeless individuals who suffer abuse, until we opened our Elder Justice Center (EJC) in 2019, there were no such supports for older adults. Our EJC, which is supported by Ohio Attorney General Victims of Crime Act funding, is the only one that provides relief exclusively to older adults, who often have unique needs because of their age as well as their physical and emotional vulnerabilities. Since elder abuse is so prevalent and America’s older adult population is steadily growing, our program fills an important unmet need in Greater Cleveland and Ohio. “At Eliza Bryant Village, we believe older adults deserve to live in a safe and secure environment where they are treated with dignity and respect,” says Danny Williams, JD, MNO, LNHA, President & CEO of Eliza Bryant Village.
The statistics paint a stark picture. During our two years of providing one-on-one services to seniors, we have discovered even more gaps in services provided to seniors in Northeast Ohio and have adjusted our EJC admissions criteria accordingly. We lowered the age of admission to 55+ and removed the requirement of a third-party referral, now accepting self-referrals directly from individuals experiencing abuse. To date, we have connected 69 seniors to much-needed community support programs and have hosted 23 guests in-house, the average stay of each being 4 months. As of December 1, 2021, we are currently housing four seniors in the EJC, all of whom were able to take refuge at Eliza Bryant Village because of the adjusted admissions criteria.
We remove seniors from unsafe living environments and provide safe, temporary refuge in a secure living environment, while also providing social, legal, physical and mental health supports. The EJC offers a trauma-informed model of care that includes therapeutic support provided in a person-centered framework by our supportive, multidisciplinary team. One former EJC guest stated, “Our generation was raised ‘you don’t talk about it.’ You act as if it didn’t happen. You don’t have time to digest what you are going through because each day is a constant struggle. Here, you can focus on yourself.” We help them process their trauma and begin healing from that trauma, so they can grow their self-confidence and live a life free from the threat of violence and exploitation.
The program provides a physical refuge while giving each guest the best chance to be able to lead a fulfilling, safe and happy life. “There are so many factors and barriers that affect each person’s success, and we have to peel through those layers to find appropriate ways to assist and support our guests,” says Jeanna Davis, Director of Senior Outreach and the Elder Justice Center. She went on to say, “Our goal is to make sure that every guest who comes to us is able to live in safe, affordable housing, which we work with them to find upon completing the program.”
We’ve learned from guests that help is usually needed when they are ready to leave our Center and re-enter society safely and successfully. Many of our guests come to us with only the clothes on their backs, with little to no money, and without a safe home to return to. They often lack basic essentials, a security deposit for a new home, kitchen essentials like plates and silverware, or towels and bedding. Because of this, the EJC may need to cover certain expenses when guests move into permanent housing, like the first month’s rent or furniture.
The Elder Justice Center is a response to the growing incidence of elder abuse experienced by many older adults. High levels of poverty and other social and economic stressors have resulted in untenable levels of physical, emotional and financial abuse of many of our vulnerable seniors. While all Elder Justice Center guests to date have been economically disadvantaged seniors living in the Northeast Ohio region, we welcome any Ohio senior experiencing abuse. The privacy of all seniors is carefully protected and all are treated with respect and dignity. Since opening in December 2019, the Elder Justice Center at Eliza Bryant Village has received two awards. The NAMI Greater Cleveland Chapter awarded its Valeria A. Harper Cultural Competence in Mental Health Award to the EJC. The C3A Consortium: Awareness, Advocacy, Action in Combating Elder Abuse awarded its 2021 Recognition Award to the EJC. These awards reinforce how necessary our Elder Justice Center program is to the community.
Eliza Bryant Village Elder Justice Center Admission Criteria:
- 55+ years of age
- Experiencing one or more forms of abuse (physical, sexual, psychological, financial)
- In need of a temporary safe shelter and agrees to be placed in a temporary safe space.
- Victim will not contact abuser through any form of communication during stay.
- Victim will keep shelter location confidential from the alleged abuser.
Elder Justice Center Contact Information
7201 Wade Park Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103
To financially support Eliza Bryant Village’s Elder Justice Center, please contact Michelle Carver, Chief Philanthropy Officer, at 216-658-1880.
Elder Abuse by the Numbers:
Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services reported that from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, a total of 33,783 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation were received by Ohio’s county departments of job and family services for adults 18 years of age and over. Of the 33,783 reports, 32,072 were reports for adults age 60 and over.
- 1 in 10 people aged 60+ are victims of elder abuse. (National Council on Aging, February 2021)
- Up to five million older Americans are abused every year. (National Council on Aging, February 2021)
- Rates of elder abuse have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. (World Health Organization, October 2021)
- 3.5 million older adults are financially exploited each year. (Consumer Affairs, July 2021)
- The annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. (National Council on Aging, February 2021)
- $34,200 is the average annual amount lost by seniors targeted by scammers. (Consumer Affairs, July 2021)
About Eliza Bryant Village
Eliza Bryant Village provides high-quality services for seniors along the continuum of care in a safe, dignified and compassionate environment. We offer skilled nursing with memory care and rehabilitation, on-site dialysis care, an adult day care and senior outreach program, and affordable independent senior housing. Home Care is available to Eliza Bryant Village seniors as well as our aging neighbors. The Elder Justice Center at Eliza Bryant Village provides free, temporary housing and wrap-around services to older adults experiencing abuse, violence, trauma or criminal victimization. Eliza Bryant Village, located on 17 acres in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, has been an anchor institution in the community for more than 125 years. The oldest continually operating African American-founded long-term care facility in the United States, we serve nearly 1,000 seniors annually with more than 150 compassionate employees and nearly 300 volunteers.