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Cole, announced an initiative known as the “Missing Link Project,” which is being launched to coordinate and combine the efforts of the U. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Access to Justice Initiative, which will be charged with developing greatly improved training for legal services providers funded under the OAA.

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They are being neglected and are suffering physical, sexual, and financial abuse—often by the individuals upon whom they rely for care and basic necessities. Although data reporting is a challenge in this area, recent studies indicate that elder abuse incidence rates are far higher than once thought.

For example, a collaborative public-private report on elder abuse in New York State found an incidence rate nearly twenty-four times greater than the number of cases referred to social service, law enforcement, or legal authorities who have the capacity and the responsibility to assist older adult victims (Lifespan of Greater Rochester et al., 2011).

One key and realistic near-term goal is passage of Senator Kohl’s Elder Abuse Victims Act (S. The Act would establish an Office of Elder Justice within the Department of Justice to bring its expertise together with the experience of prosecutors working at state and local levels to develop protocols, training standards, and technical assistance for law enforcement and courts dealing with victims of elder abuse.

The legislation seeks to improve coordination between law enforcement, APS programs, and social service providers to create inter-disciplinary “rapid response” teams, and to improve documentation and evidence-gathering processes in suspected cases of elder abuse.

While this represents a clear step forward, much work remains at the federal level to address the problem of elder abuse.