February 18, 2019

Donovan launches Elder Protection Initiative

Observer courtesy photo
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announces the launch of Vermont’s Elder Protection Initiative during a press conference last week in Winooski.

After a statewide listening tour that included a stop at the Williston headquarters of the Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont, Attorney General T.J. Donovan launched recently an “Elder Protection Initiative” (EPI) to identify and address common vulnerabilities facing older Vermonters.

The EPI will collaborate with Vermont 2-1-1 as well as the Attorney General’s Criminal, Public Protection and Human Service divisions, and Consumer Assistance Program on enforcement efforts, public education and advocating for legislation.

“It’s my job to help ensure that older Vermonters are safe and secure,” Donovan said at a press conference in Winooski announcing the initiative. “We do that every day throughout my office: prosecuting physical abuse, financial exploitation and Medicaid fraud, alerting the public to stop fraud, and supporting our human services programs.”

By 2030, 40 percent of Vermonters will be 55 or older, and Vermont will be one of the oldest states — if not the oldest state — in the country.

“We are moving into an era where it is more essential than ever that we Vermonters collaborate to support the well-being of our older community members,” Donovan said.

In one of EPI’s initial projects, the unit will work with Vermont 2-1-1 to enhance 2-1-1’s referral capacity regarding elder exploitation and abuse.

Vermont 2-1-1 is a program of the United Way of Vermont that maintains a searchable online database of programs, services and resources available to Vermonters in their towns or regions, including transportation, food and housing.

“One of the common concerns we heard (on the listening tour) was that older Vermonters and caretakers don’t know where to go to learn about what programs and services are available,” Donovan said. “Vermont 2-1-1 can help.”

The listening tour included visits to senior centers, senior meal sites and senior housing facilities. About 65 organizations that serve seniors provided input, including the Area Agencies on Aging, SASH, Meals on Wheels, home health agencies, hospitals, the Vermont Center For Aging, AARP and Legal Aid, among others.

More information about the EPI is available at ago.vermont.gov/epi.

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