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Op-Ed: Protect older adults in Queens from abuse

Senior woman crossing (Getty Images)

Feb. 27, 2024 By Shyvonne Noboa

We face a number of challenges as we age. But perhaps one of the most distressing is elder abuse. A 2021 study found that more than 1 in 10 older adults in New York State has experienced mistreatment.

Elder abuse refers to neglect, financial exploitation, emotional or verbal abuse, and physical abuse of older adults, often by a trusted caretaker or relative.

According to a 2023 report from the Center for an Urban Future, Queens has the largest population of older adults of any county in the state. More than 400,000 residents of our borough are age 65 or older. That’s an increase of 39 percent since 2011.

With such a significant number of older adults calling Queens home, all of us need to do our part to combat elder abuse in our community. My organization, Sunnyside Community Services, is leading the way with a new Elder Justice Program funded by NYC Aging that tackles this important issue with a three-pronged approach: awareness, prevention, and support.

Identifying common warning signs is a critical first step to preventing elder abuse. To provide this important knowledge to as many people as possible, we offer educational trainings and outreach to community partners, professional groups, and the public.

For those already experiencing abuse, we have social workers and professional staff who can offer case assistance, counseling, support groups, and help with safety measures such as changing locks and installing hidden cameras. These services are free and are available to any resident of Western Queens who is age 60 or older.

The older adults in our communities deserve to live free from mistreatment and abuse. The new Elder Justice Program at Sunnyside Community Services will provide the tools and support needed to confront elder abuse in Queens.

  • * Shyvonne Noboa is the Associate Executive Director for Older Adult Services at Sunnyside Community Services, leading a team of 65 staff members and managing a budget exceeding $7 million. With over a decade at SCS, she’s been instrumental in its success, directing caregiver services and launching innovative programs. Previously, she held roles at various community-focused organizations including Jamaica Hospital and SelfHelp. Shyvonne holds a master’s degree in social work specializing in gerontology from New York University and is a licensed master social worker (LMSW).


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I wish there was a volunteer group who could lend a hand in some way to help with this crisis.


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