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I will be presenting at the SPRiNG Alliance Symposium, taking place April 28-30th in Buffalo, NY

Presentation Date: 04/29/19
Location: Buffalo, NY

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It is a special privilege for me to be presenting at the 7th annual gathering of the SPRiNG Alliance (Shelter Partners: Regional. National. Global.), which is the professional network of elder abuse shelters throughout the country. I am passionate about making professionals who work with the elderly sensitive to the personal history and unique needs of each individual, as it has been unfortunately my experience that elderly patients are often regarded with less interest and compassion, even by healthcare providers.

As a child of survivors in Israel, I grew up in a world in which there were few elderly people. Most of my peers, like me, had no grandparents. I have always felt a special affinity with the elderly, and having seen my parents and many other survivors of the Holocaust age and need the help of multiple professionals, it has become of paramount importance to me to participate in efforts to improve the care of the elderly in our society, especially the care of elderly trauma survivors.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale was founded in 2005 as the nation’s first elder abuse shelter. The essential concept is that homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters don’t have the ability to appropriately accommodate the medical, cognitive and cultural needs of older adults. The Weinberg Center for Elder Justice is located at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a large long-term care community which is used as a shelter. The clients of the program get all the services any other resident of the Hebrew Home would receive, as well as special therapeutic, legal and case management services to address the abuse they have experienced. In many cases, clients have lived through other abuse experiences or traumas experienced earlier in their lives.

Since the Weinberg Center was founded, fourteen other shelters have been launched throughout the country, with several others in formation. The audience for my talk are professionals who either work at these shelter programs or who are working to create shelter programs in their own communities. Each shelter program’s structure is slightly different. Some are entirely within one nursing home, some work with a number of different nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout a geographic area and place clients in different programs depending on need and availability.

You can see more about the SPRiNG Alliance and previous symposia at this website. and learn more about the shelters and the community response to elder abuse from this link.

Irit Felsen

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