Latest news from the Council on Elder Abuse

April 04, 2023Read Story April 4 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: April 4, 2023

 Network in Aging Senior Health & Resource Fair:
10:00am – 1:00pm
M Hotel Buffalo (formerly Millenium) 2040 Walden Avenue Buffalo, NY 14225
FREE event – open to all older adults & caregivers
Member agencies – FREE 8-foot table (NO SHARING)
Individual memberships – $50 for 8-foot table
Signup to reserve your table! TABLES FOR MEMBERS ONLY!!
Email Lisa at
2nd Annual SENIOR HEALTH & RESOURCE FAIR | Network In Aging
 International Institute ‘I Stand for Peace’ Fundraiser: a family-friendly fundraising event at Soho Buffalo! Sunday, May 1st from 11am to 3pm. Proceeds will go to resettlement and integration programs serving refugees in Buffalo.
Tickets are $30 online pre-sale or $40 at the door. Kids under 13 free. Tickets include champagne wall, open bar, and hors d’oeuvres. Basket raffle, silent auction, 50-50, local vendors. I Stand for Peace Fundraiser May 1st! - International Institute of Buffalo (

 April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month
- There is a garden of blue pinwheels blooming in front of Child & Family Services on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Each pinwheel represents 20 calls in Erie County where child abuse was found in 2019.
 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th
Presentation: Central Police Services DNA Technical Leader Thomas Grill
 Laboratory Services, Examination Methods, and Case Processing
- Firearms Section:
5 analysts
Firearms operability, serial number restoration, cartridge cases and bullet comparisons.
- Seized Drugs Section:
6 analysts
Drug identification
Ignitable liquid identification – arsons
Trace evidence – fracture matches and paint analysis
- DNA Section:
14 Analysts
Body fluid identification
DNA analysis
 DNA Analysis Process:
1- Biology Analysis- detect, identify, and recover biological fluids/materials. Use microscopic and chemical analysis to identify blood, semen, saliva, feces, and urine.
2- DNA Analysis- nuclear DNA testing to attempt to determine whose biological material was recovered during step 1.
• Typically blood and semen for rape kits
• Entry and searching of qualified DNA profiles in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).
• Usually takes around 60 days
 Case Assignment-
- Cases are prioritized as follows:
1- Homicides, rapes, and specific requests from AUSA’s, ADA’s and law enforcement are assigned first.
2- All other cases prioritized by submission date.
• Law states all sexual assault kits must be submitted to lab within 10 days after collection.
• Law states all sexual assault kits must be analyzed at the lab within 90 days of submission.
 DNA Background:
- Deoxyribonucleic Acid
- Blueprints for your body - Determines everything about us; physical appearance and body functions.
- Get ½ of your DNA from your mother and ½ from your father in form of chromosomes.
- Found in biological fluids and materials.
- Every person’s DNA in unique except identical twins.
- DNA does not change throughout your lifetime.
-DNA is the same in every cell in your body and every cell in the body contains DNA, except red blood cells (RBCs).
- Approximately 100 cells are required to develop a full DNA profile.
~40 Trillion cells in human body
5,000 - 10,000 WBCs in 1 drop of blood
 DNA Analysis:
- Testing is used as an investigative aid and can provide the following info:
Species determination
Sex of an individual
Identification of an individual – unknown human remains
Aid in crime scene reconstruction and accident investigation
Identify or exonerate suspects through matches or exclusions
Corroborate or disprove suspect’s and victim’s account of incident

- Testing cannot provide the following info:
How the DNA got there?
When the DNA got there?
How long the DNA has been there?
If someone actually touched the object.
How long someone handled an object?
Who handled the object first/last?
Who handled the object the most/least?
Was the sex consensual?
*We can offer explanations or opinions on the above but nothing definitive*
 Sources of DNA:
- Blood:
• Made of WBC, RBC, Platelets, and Plasma.
• DNA is located in WBC – 5K to 10K per drop.
• Chemical tests for identification.
• Great source of DNA – viable evidence.
- Semen:
• Composed of seminal fluid and sperm cells.
• Fluoresces under ALS.
• Chemical tests for semen.
• Great source of DNA.
- Other Body Fluids:
Saliva and Sweat:
• DNA is actually found in the skin cells that are shed from the body into these liquids.  Good sources of DNA.
• Chemical test for saliva. No chemical test for sweat.
Urine, Fecal Material, and Vomit:
• Chemical tests for identification of urine and fecal material.
• Not always good sources of DNA (degraded or diluted).
• Not typically analyzed for DNA at lab.
- Epithelial Cells/Skin Cells:
• Touch DNA= unintentional transfer of skin cells onto an item through casual contact.
• Factors that affect amount of skin cells deposited are: time, pressure, shedder, type of material, sweaty, dry flakey skin, etc.
• Brief contact typically does not leave enough DNA to develop a profile.
• Not always good sources of DNA.  Not as concentrated as body fluids like blood/semen.
• Mixed profiles common. 
• Most common type of evidence
- Solid Tissues/Human Remains:
Fingernails/Toenails- Nails themselves contain DNA. Suspect’s DNA can be found underneath victims’ fingernails or victim’s underneath suspect’s if there was contact.
Chunks of skin- Found on cars with hit and runs.
• Decomposed remains
• Bone marrow
• Deep muscle tissue
Hairs- Hairs must contain root material for nuclear DNA analysis.
• Lab will examine for the presence of a root and determine if suitable for DNA analysis.
• Most shed hairs do not contain root material.
• Lab does not perform hair comparisons.
 Elder Abuse Cases, Sexual Assault Kits (SAK), and Laboratory Testing:
- Forensic lab involvement requires some type of physical evidence to analyze. Such as: Sexual assault kits, weapons, items left behind by suspect (e.g., hat, cigarette butts), items touched by suspect (e.g., a purse or safe that was burglarized).
- Elder Abuse & Forensics:
• Victims often have difficulty or cannot communicate what happened. 
• The forensic results can help give a voice to the victim when they cannot provide one for  themselves.
• Especially nursing home cases, often victims are in failing health.  May have limited mobility and speech which makes them easy targets to predators.
- 2017 SAK Legislation:
• New sexual assault kit (SAK) legislation went into effect in 2017.
• Requires all kits to be submitted to the lab within 10 days after collection unless victim states otherwise.
• Requires the lab to process all kits that have the potential to produce a CODIS eligible profile (i.e. a crime has been committed) within 90 days.
• Laboratory receives ~250 kits per year.
• About 50% of the 250 kits test positive for a foreign biological material or male DNA and proceed on to DNA analysis.
- Sexual Kit Analysis Methods:
1. Traditional Screen Methods- Attempt to identify foreign biological material/fluids through chemical and/or microscopic analysis.  If fluids are identified, the sample is then processed for DNA to try and obtain a DNA profile.
o Kit is opened and inventoried.
o Swabs are analyzed for foreign biological material. Semen identified by either microscopic analysis or PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) testing (a presumptive test meaning present or not).
o If no sperm cells are identified, swabs next analyzed for saliva.  Test for the enzyme human saliva α-amylase. Lab uses the Rapid Stain Identification of Human Saliva (RSID™-Saliva) Test (presumptive test).
o If negative, any collected underwear present in the kit is analyzed. Examined under ALS (alternate light source).  Semen, saliva, and urine will fluoresce.If stains are negative analysis stops; If any of the above are positive DNA testing is performed.
2. Y-Screen Method – Examining evidence for the presence of male DNA.  If male DNA is detected, an attempt is made to develop a DNA profile.
o Kit is opened and inventoried.
o ½ of a swab is cut from each.  Scenario based.  If victim cannot recall incident or no info is given all steps are sampled.
o Extract DNA from sampled swabs.
o Analyze extracts for presence and amount of male DNA – quantitation step in DNA process.
- Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
Definition - A national network or repository of DNA profiles. Enables local, state, and federal laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically.
Purpose - To develop investigative leads by connecting cases and/or identifying sources of DNA.
• All probative DNA profiles developed from analyzed rape kits are submitted to CODIS (eliminate any consensual partners).
• Since new legislation CODIS hits have increased ~100%.
- Contact information:
Lab phone – 716-858-7409 or 716-858-7408
Lab website - 

Next Meeting: Tuesday,May 2, 2023 at 9:00am via zoom. 

March 07, 2023Read Story March 7, 2023 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: March 7, 2023

 2023 National Training Institute & The National Crime Victim Bar Association 2023 National Conference will be held from September 6th – September 8th in Boston, Massachusetts.,September%208th%20in%20Boston%2C%20Massachusetts
 NNEDV, NCVC: The True Costs of Domestic Violence: Financial Fraud and Financial Abuse.
 NY ALCA Annual HYBRID More than Entitlements Seminar! Tickets, Tue, Mar 21, 2023 at 10:30 AM | Eventbrite
 "FBI Perspectives on Elder Fraud: Realities, Losses, And Prevention" – Special Agent Andy Abramowicz at 7 p.m. on March 22 at Elderwood Residences at Wheatfield; 2600 Niagara Falls Blvd, Niagara Falls. To reserve a spot, please call HART at 716-754-8313.
 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day- June 15th- Caring Card Challenge- Press Conference focus will be on agencies who work on combating elder abuse.
 Use of CEA website (use of UniteUs)
 ECCAFV- Friday March 10th 9:00am-10:30am.

Presentation: Alzheimer’s Association Grant- Katelyn Nikel, Staff Attorney at Center for Elder Law and Justice
 The Alzheimer’s Association grant is called the “WNY Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative”.
 The initiative consists of caregiver support programs at 10 community agencies who are part of the grant.
 No income restrictions, no age requirement to be accepted.
 Counties served include: Erie, Niagara, and Genesee.
 CELJ role is to provide legal services including: draft Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy documents, burial directives, and will review services.
 Also CELJ is able to assist with long term care/Medicare planning.
 The Initiative provides free legal services and education to caregivers on topics including housing, health coverage, income maintenance, employment, consumer matters, scam avoidance, family issues, and more.
 Client must have capacity in order for CELJ to provide legal services.
 Referrals for CELJ typically come from doctors, and are clients who were recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Caregivers are mostly spouses or adult children. About ¼ of referrals don’t have capacity.
 Alzheimer’s is the most costly diagnosis.
 Discussion on caregiver stress vs. abuse
 This program places emphasis on reaching at-risk, marginalized, and historically underserved caregivers, especially those residing in rural areas.
 The comprehensive continuum of services in the grant include a 24/7 Helpline, individualized care consultations, support groups, education programs, and safety and early-stage engagement services.
 Approximately 3,200 Western New Yorkers participate annually in these programs.
 Contact: Katelyn Nikel at (716) 853-3087, Ext. 265 or by email at

Next Meeting: Tuesday, April 4th, 2023 at 9:00am via zoom.

February 07, 2023Read Story February 7, 2023 Meeting Notes

Council on Elder Abuse: February 7, 2023

Next meeting: 03/07/2023 at 9:00 AM

• National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
• Lifespan of Rochester
• Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ)

Upcoming Events
• 02/09/2023 – Improving Cultural Humility: LGBTQ+
• 03/15/2023 – Alzheimer’s Association Niagara County Caregiver Conference
o 5:30-7:30 PM
o Niagara Falls Library, 1425 Main Street (zoom option available)
o Featuring guest speakers and a resource fair. Learn about dementia, working with your doctor, and planning for future needs.

Presentation: Alzheimer’s Association – Chelsea Torgalski
• Alzheimer's Association FAQs
o Main mission is to maximize quality care and support for all people with dementia and their families
o No formal diagnosis necessary – they can even assist with getting a diagnosis
o Their services are for all people with dementia, not just Alzheimer’s
o Services are free
o 24/7 Helpline to connect with a licensed clinician: 800.272.3900
• Cognitive changes that can signal the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia:
o Memory loss (beginning with short term memory)
o Difficulty planning and problem solving
o Changes in judgment and decision-making
o Changes in logical & rational thinking (can present as paranoia)
o Difficulty with impulse control
• Common symptoms:
o Repetition: asking the same questions or making the same observations over and over
o Hallucinations and/or delusions
o Suspicion/paranoia
 Example: someone not recognizing their spouse, because in their mind they & their spouse are much younger
 Example: when an item is misplaced, assuming that someone else has moved it or stolen it, rather than forgetting where it is
o Aggression
o Anxiety: general anxiety, feeling like they have lost or forgotten something
o “Sundowning:” an increase in cognitive changes/the severity of symptoms at the end of the day/through the night
 The brain is tired and it’s harder for people to make sense of their surroundings
 Reduced lighting can cause shadows & reflections that trigger confusion
o Shadowing: showing an increased attachment to their caregiver, following them around
o Difficulty problem solving
• Alzheimer’s Association Intervention
o Care consultations:
 Physical/medical factors: is the person with dementia in pain? Are they dehydrated? Are they on a new medication?
 Environmental factors: is there something in their living space that exacerbates symptoms?
 Caregiver approach/assisting with communication changes
 Respite options: providing people living with dementia and their caregivers with a break
o Safety planning:
 Mirroring: if the caregiver is anxious or angry, the person with dementia will mirror that behavior
 Removing dangerous items from the home
 Doctor assessments
 Alerting law enforcement to the person’s dementia in advance in case they need to be called to the home in the future
 If there is immediate danger, the caregivers may need to remove themselves from the home
o Referrals
 Doctors
 Crisis Services
 Police
 Hospitals
 Long Term Care facilities
• Capacity
o Difference between legal and medical capacity
o Diagnosis does not assume incapacity
o Progression and duration of stages of dementia are unpredictable
o Capacity can fluctuate

Presentation: Nursing Home Issues – Lindsay Heckler, Supervising Attorney with Center for Elder Law & Justice
• Admission Agreements and Third Party Obligations
o Growing trend of Nursing Homes going after third parties for payment of outstanding bills
 It is prohibited for language in admission agreements to require third parties be responsible for a patient’s debt
• Important to note that Power of Attorney agents are only responsible for paying from the principal’s funds, not their own
o Seeing an increase in nursing homes suing third parties for payment of debt even though they have no legal obligation to repay
o Trend of patients/family members being forced to read and sign admission agreements under duress, without the chance to review the document privately or with an attorney
o New law effective April 2021 requires facilities to post their admission agreements on their websites
o Ms. Heckler recommends against e-signing a document as it prevents the opportunity for people to amend/remove the language in the agreement that they do not agree with
o Reminder that written notice is required to be provided to the resident prior to any transfer, and the resident has the right to return to the facility when the first bed becomes available
• Nursing Homes Discharging Residents to Other Facilities
o Seeing a trend of nursing homes trying to discharge residents to other facilities when they transition from short-term rehab to long-term care
o Every bed in New York State is dually licensed
o If a resident requires long-term care, that is not a legal reason for a nursing home discharge
o It is a violation for a nursing home to say that they don’t have any long-term care beds
• Budget Updates
o Proposed 5% increase in Medicaid payment rates to facilities
o Proposed legislation to implement quality ranking system for facilities
 This ignores adult facilities like senior living apartments that are not licensed the same way
o Proposed legislation allowing assisted living facilities to seek accreditation
 Concern that the proposed language allows assisted living facilities that receive accreditation to not undergo regular inspections
o Proposed legislation to allow CNAs to obtain a certificate to distribute medication
 Concern is that facilities already say there are not enough CNAs; if this goes through, there will need to be an increase in CNAs to support the additional work
 Additional concern that the proposed language states that medication distribution by CNAs will be supervised by Registered Nurses; however, many facilities have replaced RNs with LPNs, causing an additional burden on the limited RN staff
o Proposed legislation to address staffing agencies, requiring them to register with the state

December 06, 2022Read Story December 6, 2022 Meeting Notes

      Meeting Notes: December 6, 2022


Alzheimer’s Association Workshop on LGBTQ+ and caretakers. You can review the recording here:
Passcode: +O+Qkp1R
UpEAC at Lifespan's Financial Exploitation Webinar 12/7/22: Recovering from Elder Financial Exploitation: Registration (
OVW Grant in Niagara County- CCR Group reforming. Contact Sue Frawley to join or for more information,
ECCAFV- no December meeting
Eastern Niagara Hospital Grant- geriatric accredited ER.
Lifespan/CELJ Financial Management Program- decrease exploitation and scams. Volunteers who meet with seniors once per month to assist with bill paying, mail sorting, etc. Contact Amy Gathings (716) 853-3087 ext 247 for information.

Presentation: Wendy Backman, Senior Wishes
 Wendy is employed by the United Church Home Society which owns Fox Run and United Church Manor.
 Senior Wishes was started in 2014. Since then, 400 wishes have been granted as of 2022.
 The goal is to make a wish or dream come true for seniors. Differs from the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ because Senior Wishes does not require a medical diagnosis.
 A medical release from participant’s doctor is required to participate in wish granting.
 Qualifications:
      - Resident of Western New York (Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming, Genesee counties) and a U.S. Citizen

      - 65 years of age or older

      - Annual total household income less than $38,000 for a household of one or $44,000 for a household of two            OR a permanent resident of a care facility

      - Must be cognitively, emotionally and physically capable of communicating and experiencing the wish.                      (You do NOT need a medical diagnosis to apply for a wish)

      - Unable to fulfill the wish on your own or with family assistance.

      - Individual or group wishes.

 Simple Holiday Wishes- for isolated seniors, with limited resources, many of whom that will be the only gift they receive at the holidays. Gift up to $50. Expanded to nursing homes.
 Hero Boxes- for veterans with veteran memorabilia.
 Email is primary method of communication.
 Amazon wish list for the holiday wish granting is posted on the Senior Wishes Facebook page.…/O4OPPTK9H…/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1
 Live fundraising event in 2023- ‘Sips, Suds, and Sweets’ on April 20th from 6-9pm at Fox Run.
 Corporate sponsors include: Geico, M&T, BCBS, Ind. Health, People Inc, Elderwood, law firms, Nova, West Herr, and Bank on Buffalo.
 Donations- have no storage but will take a donation of equipment if they know someone needs it or can make it work without having to store it.
 Number #1 request: clothing or bedding. Also dishes, pots and pans, microwave, coffee maker, and on occasion music lessons.


Link to Online Application:,communicating%20and%20experiencing%20the%20wish.

Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 3rd at 9:00am via zoom. 

May 03, 2022Read Story May 2022 Meeting Notes

Council on Elder Abuse Meeting Notes: May 3, 2022


Small Business COVID Funding Grants Available:
- Erie – Storefront Revitalization Program – funding up to $40,000 on eligible activities. (due Jun 16):

- Niagara – Niagara County Façade Program – funding up to $50,000 in form of a match on eligible activities (due May 6):

Workshop – Be the Change You Want to See in Senior Care – OPEN TO ANYONE | Network In Aging on Tuesday, May 17th from 12:30pm-4:30pm. Cost: $25.00 (includes lunch).

Walk and Run Details - Pinnacle Community Services ( on Saturday, May 21 from 10:00am-2:00pm at Hyde Park in Niagara Falls, NY. Registration fee of $25 includes race participation, event t-shirt, and goodie bag!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There has been a 25% increase in anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic.
- “Proof”- play at the Keenan Center in Lockport
- DeltaSonic Round Up
- May 12th Flash Mob at Lafayette Square

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th. Look for announcements about events and outreaches. Press conference at 11:00am with focus on positive messaging and “Reach Out, Speak Out” theme.

 Feedmore WNY is looking for a social worker position to be filled.

Alzheimer’s Association:
-  Lunch and Learn at the Downtown Library:
- May 26th- Caregiver Conference

Lifespan Grant- Money Management Program

Presentation: Ralph Wilson Foundation Family Guardian Support Project- Brad Loliger, staff attorney at Center for Elder Law and Justice
 Education and guidance for family members serving as guardian.
 Program is funded for 3 years
 Do not file petitions for guardianship.
 Do assist guardians who have been appointed with assistance and guide through annual accountings, processes guardians must follow, and legal system.
 Community presentations available.
 Contact: (716) 853-3087 x 220, or
 More info on CELJ website:

Presentation: Stefanie Matta- Behavioral Health Clinician with West Seneca Police Department
 Has worked with law enforcement since 2008.
 Program is through Endeavor Health includes: Town of Tonawanda PD, Buffalo PD, NFTA (covers Erie and Niagara), Cheektowaga PD, and West Seneca PD.
 Was developed as a result of the police advisory committee under Cuomo legislation and by citizen request.
 Provides ongoing mental health trainings to officers. Has had remarkable progress with handling of mental health calls.
 Use Alzheimer’s Association hotline frequently on overnights. Especially with wandering behaviors.
 Encounter cognitive disorders, hallucinations, and aggression most commonly.
 Hoarding cases are usually referred by building inspector. In one case, she rounded up some officers to do a clean out for an elderly woman who had frequent falls due to clutter and could not afford to hire a cleaning service.
 For deaths in home- may provide grief therapy on scene, afterwards, especially in the event of a traumatic death.
 Monitor frequent medical alarms and falls. After about a month of tracking, will look into services, environment, and additional support that may help decrease those events.
 Fraud offenses- not typically involved unless a detective brings in behavioral health.
 Rides with an officer for an entire shift. Typically involved with mental health calls or victim support. Determine if individual needs a higher level of care in the moment that police/behavioral health clinician interact with him or her. Perform a mini mental.
 Typically do not send elderly patients to CPEP, unless absolutely necessary. Will involve medical and try to send to Mercy Hospital instead.
 Will look at home, activities of daily living, orientation, medications check, may reach out to family or primary doctor to follow up.
 Use Geriatric Depression Scale, will screen for UTI, blood sugar, to try to rule out medical issues that may be causing psychotic symptoms.
 Contact ECMC Help Center to obtain quicker and better help.
 Will make referral to case management either through insurance, senior center, senior services, etc. Goes with older adult to senior center to make introductions and to make the new experience more comfortable.
 Relationship with local churches and spiritual counseling. Attends Committee of West Seneca Churches Meetings.
 Veterans- typically would reach out to the VA.
 Short term involvement- maybe a week with each person, or longer with no supports present to achieve stability.
- Issues with adult children moving in with older adults /family dynamics? Will work to build trust with older adult. Provide resources and monitor for caregiver burnout.
- Impact on cases in court if person is arrested? Work closely with judges and will make them aware of mental health in the event of repeat arrests. Want actions to play out and will speak to the arrestee’s presentation at the time of the crime/incident.
- How receptive were officers? Mostly open because they realize it is needed. Also understand social worker can do what officers cannot.
- NFTA? Deal with a large amount of the homeless population and link with resources for housing. Follow up is tough for that clinician’s role.
- Has the DA noticed any changes due to these interventions? Not directly but likely because the clinicians are doing a good job and cases are not rising to the level of prosecution.
- Contact: or (716) 558-3111

Next Meeting: Tuesday, June 7th at 9:00am via zoom.

April 05, 2022Read Story April 5 2022 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: April 5, 2022

- International Institute fundraiser on May 1, 2022 at Soho. “Stand for Peace”. 11am to 3pm. Proceeds will go to resettlement and integration programs serving refugees in Buffalo. Tickets are $30 online pre-sale or $40 at the door. Kids under 13 free. (
- ECCAFV Meeting on April 8, 2022 at 9:00am via Zoom.
- April is Child Abuse Awareness Month
- World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, 2022. Events including the Caring Card Challenge, press conference, light up landmarks. First planning meeting is April 27, 2022.
- Niagara County received a mini grant for outreach and awareness for WEAAD. There will be a presentation on 6/2 at the Dale Association.
- CELJ has job openings:
o Dept. of Justice grant Project Coordinator for Elder Abuse training in Niagara County. Partners include DA, NCSO, and Pinnacle.
o Social worker for the Pooled Trust.
- Alzheimer’s Association: May 26 Conference at Niagara Community College. Topics include Dementia 101 and information for Caregivers.

Presentation: UB Anatomical Gift Program- Ryan Cameron
- Opportunity for medical and dental students to learn on cadavers.
- If embalmed, able to use for multiple semesters. Other medical schools also request donors from UB.
-  Beginning of 2022 program obtained new leadership and experienced the same capacity issues as hospitals largely because of postponement of classes due to covid, virtual learning, etc.
- Over 20,000 registered donors. Average about 800 donors per year.
- Takes about 2 months to 2 years for families to receive cremains.
- Donors must be within a 100 mile radius and be pre-registered to donate.
-  Limitations on donations:
o Program must be notified within 48 hours of death, either by family or facility.
o Must be over 18 years of age.
o Must be a NYS resident within 100 miles of UB because program is unable to file death certificate out of state.
o Must be in program and registered at least 1 month prior to death.
o Not obese at time of death (usually this means not over 32 BMI but no concrete number at this time). If obese, there are issues with embalming due to damaged vascular system.
o Have no infectious diseases.
o Unable to accept if decedent had autopsy or if organs were harvested. (Exception is if a Connect Life eye donation was done, able to accept).
-  Eligibility criteria and forms to register can be found here:
-  Letters were sent out to registered donors with updated criteria.
-  Prevents program from just being a free cremation service.  Erie and Niagara both have burial assistance programs to access.
- Is there still a Memory Garden?
No, cremains are returned to family or interred at Skinnerville Cemetery with annual memorial service.
- Do families know what cadavers are used for?
Typically for basic anatomy study. But no details are given. DR signs cause of death, UB obtains vital statistics, and death certificate is filed in jurisdiction of where they passed.
- Do you take donors from Medical Examiners?
Yes- mostly murders/suicides. But not if an autopsy was done.
- Are funeral homes aware of criteria changes?
Yes- reached out to Funeral Director Association to notify.
- Is family obligated to honor the decedent’s wishes?
No- can change their mind. POA can sign application to obtain donor card.
- No cost to family. $10 cost for certified order of death certificate.
- Need to have back up plan, in case donation is not possible.
- Donation of Brain/Specific Organ for a Specific Reason?
Possibly to Harvard Brain Study or research disorder for ongoing studies.
o Project Hope looking for staffing. There is a waitlist and still working remotely. Primarily seeking care coordination.
o Pinnacle Fun Run/Walk for Mental Health at Hyde Park from 10:00am-2:00pm. Supports care program. $25 to participate, there will be vendors.

Next Meeting: Tuesday, May 3, at 9:00am via Zoom.

February 01, 2022Read Story February 2022 Meeting Notes

*There was no meeting in January 2022.

Meeting Notes: February 1, 2022


  • 2022 USC Judith D. Tamkin International Symposium on Elder Abuse: February 24 and 25 in Pasadena, California. Register at:
  • Community Services for Every1 Seminar on February 24 from 10:00am-12:00pm on Crisis & De-Escalation for Special Populations- Their Brains, Our Behavior, and Providers Best Practices. Call (716) 883-8002 ext 476 or email to register.
  •  Eviction Moratorium expired 1/16. HUB court was created so any town/village evictions in Erie County will be heard at Buffalo City of Court through virtual proceedings.

Scam Update: Kristen Orr, Tech Paralegal at Center for Elder Law and Justice
• CELJ is heading a COVID Scam Task Force which includes presentations and training for organizations and the public to educate on scams. (

• Webinar on Romance Scams: February 16 at 1:00pm. Register Here:

• Monthly scams bulletin

• Spectrum phone scam- call from individuals alleging to be Spectrum to offer a senior discount. Requesting social security number and $19 fee to obtain discount.

• CELJ able to make reports of scams to FTC Portal.

Presentation: Bruce Eliot, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office- Weapons Discussion

Handguns (pistols, revolvers, glochs- any firearm that is held in a hand or is stored in a holster):

-In NYS, owning a handgun requires a pistol permit. Pistol permit process includes an extensive background check, interviews with references, and a home visit with applicant.

- Pistol permits are now a small card on which registered handguns will be listed on the back. There is no numerical limit to amount of handguns that can be owned but they must be listed on the permit to be considered lawfully registered. Registered owner must notify local police department if new handgun is purchased as well.

-Permit is renewed every 5 years.

Long guns: (rifles or shot guns)
-No permit required in NYS, owners would need to pass background check in national database for felonies or active OOPs at gun dealership. If not cleared through database, and purchaser has an active OOP or felony conviction, gun dealer must notify law enforcement that a firearm purchase attempt was made. Law enforcement will then check status of OOP/convictions and notify victim.

SAFE Act: passed in 2012, direct result of Sandy Hook
-Handguns permitted to have a maximum of 10 round magazine.
- Intent of the act was to minimize high capacity magazines and therefore minimize loss of life.
- Rifles and shotguns- act forbids fully automatics (also called machine guns).
-Long guns also cannot be used with a tripod, enhanced stocks, or any enhancements that allow for faster loading and/or faster shooting.
-Nurses, psych providers, doctors, etc. made mandated reporters for mental health and access to weapons.

What Can You Do?
- Suggests providing safety planning for gun ownership.
-Call law enforcement to check/inquire about a firearm in a client’s home. Police will ask if you are currently at the house, where the firearm is located, etc. Without a mental health concern or welfare concern (minimal threat) there will be little police can do besides confirm if firearm is registered or not.
- If individual does not have an OOP from family or criminal court that individual is still considered legally able to own firearms until such time an OOP is in place or a medical professional has raised concern.

Red Flag Law Provision-
- Medical professionals or agencies able to petition local county court judge for hearing to determine capacity to own firearm legally.
- Court can issue guns to be turned over to police until issue is resolved.
- Parents who do not live with child, doctors, school principal, or school counselor can petition.

Who Oversees this?
-NYSP processes pistol permits, handgun ownership, and anything to do with the SAFE Act.

Are Gun Sellers Licensed?
- Yes. Required to have a federal firearm license to sell and transport firearms in NYS.
- Course to obtain license can be completed online or in person.
Can a Person in NYS purchase a firearm online?
-Yes. The dealer must have purchased the firearm in person and have a federal license even if in another state.

Disposing of Firearms:
1) Call police- will destroy or dispose of them.
2) Transfer to immediate family member with a valid pistol permit (spouse, son, or daughter).
Ex. Brother in law cannot take ownership (not immediate family). Would have to go through licensed dealer to purchase off owner’s immediate family member for $10 fee.

What About Disposal of Ammunition?
- Police will not take ammo due to evidence storage space issue.
- Call local gun store. May take ammo or give it to a neighbor/family member.
- No regulations on possessing ammunition.

Discussion on Safety:
-Ask if there are guns in the home prior to doing home visit.
-Niagara OFA, Crisis Services, and APS ask this on intake.
-Request for home visits safety training
- Any gun has to be locked/in gun safe.

What About Lost/Stolen Guns?
- Owner has to report to local police. Statutorily within 24 hours but that is no upheld and the owner may not realize it is missing within 24 hours.
- Few legal remedies to go after people who have not turned in guns. Police do have a list of these individuals.

How Easy Is It to get a gun across state lines?
- Usually find out after a crime has been committed.
- Ohio and Kentucky have the laxest gun laws.
- No border inspection to travel state to state.
- “ghost guns” – buying parts with no serial numbers or registration off the internet. Then assemble the weapon. Ghost guns are untraceable.

Cost of Guns?
- Pistols- hundreds/thousands of dollars for a legal gun. Limited supply of ammo in stock.

Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 1, at 9:00am via Zoom.


December 07, 2021Read Story December 2021 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: December 7, 2021

- Better Business Bureau 12 Scams of Christmas (

- Lifespan Webinar “Elder Abuse 101: With a Focus on Financial Exploitation” (

-Evans Bank “Protecting Yourself from Fraud”- view recording at

-Website resource:

Presentation: Amherst Police Department Officer McGarvey

- Created a flyer, visiting senior living facilities to educate on scams.
- Lunch and Learn events
- Also going to Target, Wegmans, Tops, etc. to educate staff on gift card scams. Seniors are often embarrassed or don’t believe stores. Asked to sign a waiver to purchase if scam is suspected.
-  Police Department is seeing a lot of lottery scams where victims are asked to pay taxes on their winnings to claim them.
-  Detectives are following up on scams, when possible.
-  Snowplowing scams are starting up- victims asked to pay a high deposit and service is not being performed.
- Where do reports go? –detectives handle that. Not sure if they send or have victim send information on scam to other entities. Also doing out of state or out of country reports. Do refer to a federal agency.
- Contact information (716) 689-1387 or contact for flyers to distribute.

Presentation: Empire Justice Center Remla Parthasarathy
-  Empire Justice Center has 3 primary functions:
1) Practice Law- provide representation
2) Teach the Law- education
3) Improve the Law- Advocacy
-  Crime Victims Legal Network- program that meets needs of crime victims. (
-  Main components include: Know Your Rights, Legal Help Directory (able to send email to OVS funded attorney/paralegal to receive response), Victim Compensation (including eligibility guide and claim navigator), and Legal Forms.
- Website and forms are in plain language at an 8th-10th grade reading level to improves accessibility.
- Webinars available- no CLEs for viewing recordings.
- Are there any particular geographical areas at that use this more? –that data is collected, unsure. Some counties lack resources that are needed.
- Difficulty of joint account exploitation cases.

• New contacts to add
• Send speaker and topic ideas for 2022 to Kathy Kanaley at

*Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 4, at 9:00am via Zoom. 

November 03, 2021Read Story November 2021 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: November 3, 2021

-Network in Aging Lunch – Enhanced Multidisciplinary Team Award
- Next Month Speaker: Amherst Police Department presenting on what they are seeing and suggestions for the group.
- Rental Assistance Updates- COVID related reason acceptable plus landlord funds are being paid out for rent in arrears after March 2020 in properties with less than 20 units.
-Crisis Services- NYS Cares a training for first responders on mental health and behavioral issues. Several sessions being offered: November 10 at 6pm or November 15 at 11:00am. Presented by Dr. Drew Anderson.
- Video by NYS OFA Youtube- Combating Loneliness and Social Isolation
-Mercy Hospital strike- labor demands include wanting 1 nurse to 4 patient ratio which is a near impossible staffing goal.

• Homecare (Judy K)- judge ruled religious exemptions not permissible for healthcare workers. Homecare agencies are very short staffed, staff are refusing to service clients who are not vaccinated.
• ECMC- discharging home and homecare services are also a struggle with staffing at hospitals being low. Question: What happens to patients brought to hospital because they cannot receive 24 hour care?
• People Inc- have a homecare waiting list, offer consumer directed options. Also have a chore program in which hiring/keeping aides is a struggle.
• APS- increase in cases due to lack of caregivers? Yes- lots are leaving AMA from facilities due to lack of care. Access order with environmental concerns/condemned homes are sent to hospital.
• JFS- in home health services? –working with Kim Leonard to set up services.
- Grant for counseling for caregivers
- Support group/ another group after holidays. Possibly shifting to in person group. Virtual attendance is hit and miss.
• Ventureforth- challenge to get aides into home. Recruitment increasing but not where it needs to be.
• ECSO- senior safety presentation- lots of telephone scams. Looking to do joint programs with other agencies. Seeing more mental health and isolation than ever. Recently most common are emergency contact information scams/texts.
• FBI- scams- grandparent scam involving scammers physically coming to victim’s house to pick up requested funds. FBI looking for outreach opportunities or to partner with other agencies on outreach.
• Senior Financial Safety Tool- used to screen for risk of financial exploitation. Clients or community partners can fill out the tool and submit it.
• Out in Community? People Inc/Senior Services- no home visits. Remote work a couple days per week.



Next Meeting: Tuesday, December 7, 2021  at 9:00am via Zoom. 

October 05, 2021Read Story October 2021 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: October 5, 2021

- Caregivers (Judy K) is looking to hire a nursing supervisor.

-Senior Living Housing- call (716) 817-9090 to apply.

-CELJ Housing Unit is doing ERAP applications to prevent evictions/payment to landlords.

-October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- Spotlight event and Haven House web series are virtual.

- FBI Grandparent Scams Press Interview:

-JFS- Older Adult Virtual Support Group resumes October 20th. Led by Janice Burns from the Prevention Council. Topics TBA

-Sarah Bonk- looking for NFTA Mental Health Advocate

- AATI trainings from October 4-6 Conference will be posted for post event viewing.

- Roxanne Sorenson Daughter’s Benefit: 
Location:   Main Transit Fire Dept. 6777 Main St. Williamsville NY
Date: OCTOBER 16, 2021
Time: 1pm – 6pm

• Senior Services- no home visits. Senior companions are visiting to provide services. Have had trouble getting aides.
• VIA- open, doing visits and office appointments.
• CELJ- Outreach and Mobile Legal Units available and scheduling events.
• Domestic Violence Hotline changes.

- Caregivers have a Senior Services client receiving about 8 hours of non medical homecare. Client was hospitalized and needs changed. Caregivers asking who would communicate with the discharge planner about the change in care and coordinate services?
- Senior services not able to be part of discharge plan and do not provide 24 hour care.
- Caregivers can contact case manager with services/care plan inquiries.
- Hospice Outreach- importance of getting affirs in order.
- Share any outreach opportunities with the larger group.
- New Pooled Trust? -Oasis

Next Meeting: WEDNESDAY, November 3 at 9:00am via Zoom. 


September 07, 2021Read Story September 2021 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: September 7, 2021

- UB Institute on Addictions- Training on 9/14 from 2:00pm-4:00pm at Main Transit Fire Hall.
- ‘No Safe Place’ Webinar by the Bar Association on 9/22 from 12:00pm-2:00pm on Zoom. This is a free presentation and the format is speakers and panel discussions. Register Here:
- EMDT Scam Update: increase in Norton Security scams- access is granted through pop ups/remote access.
- Online purchases: BBB warns of look-alike websites
- Secret shopper scam case, victim paid $3500- check bounced.
- NYS Unemployment Benefit will not be extended due to deficit.
- FTC portal- able to report through CELJ
- International Institute/Jericho Rd. have an Afghan refugee wish list.

• Beth Nelson- durable medical equipment scams now faxing script for signature. Some doctors have been catching that the script is not related to patient’s diagnosis, and therefore doesn’t sign. *Find out who signed for the equipment to be delivered*
- DR asking patients to pay up front and bill Medicare.
- Vaccine surveys, vaccine cards still a prominent scam area.

Presentation:  Alex Fehrman, Esq. Staff Attorney at Center for Elder Law and Justice
- Homeless Coalition Survey indicates homelessness is mostly the result of loss of jobs, covid concerns, lack of available housing, and limited access to or lack of understanding of benefits.
- Last Year: Tenant could submit a hardship declaration for either a financial hardship due to COVID or a medical reason not to move. Landlord could still evict for behaviors/hazard to other tenants.  This ended August 21, 2021. Supreme Court struck this down because there was no opportunity for landlord rebuttal.
Extension to January 15, 2022:
- Landlord can challenge hardship declaration and tenant must demonstrate lost income with documentation. Eviction is on hold until January if granted. If certified, must apply for rental assistance program (ERAP).
- State shifted to concern about nonpayment from landlord termination with tenancy.
- Allows for virtual court appearance/hearings if needed.
- Eviction for family member/cohabitant should be filed as a nuisance and demonstrate moratorium doesn’t apply. An OOP stating person is not permitted to remain on the property is good evidence to support this.

Rental Assistance: call 211 or
- Check payable to landlord
- Landlord must participate in process.
- No known max amount. Pay out has been about $3,000- $6,000.
Roseanne B.- properties for families, apts for homeless  (716) 817-9190


Q: Is there education for assistance recipients to reduce recidivism?
Answer: Belmont Housing Counselors able to provide.

Q: What is going on with foreclosures?
Answer: Unknown- WNY Housing Alliance may have some information.

Q: If tenant left apartment, landlord received no income- what could be done about that?
Answer: small claims court for back rent

Next Meeting: Tuesday, October 5 at 9:00am via Zoom.

June 01, 2021Read Story June 2021 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes: June 1, 2021

 Miguel Santos- HEAP is extended through August 31st.
 Eviction moratorium to continue through August 31st (with COVID hardship).
 Power of Attorney changes in effect June 13th.
 Outreach/ in service trainings being offered by CELJ.
 Meals on Wheels/Feedmore WNY- no in person meetings yet.
 Alzheimer’s Association education series begins Tuesday, June 8th. Topic information and registration on Alzheimer’s Association website or Network in Aging website.
 Longest Day is June 20th.
 Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence meeting on June 11th from 9:00am-10:30am.

Presentation: Rachel Baldassaro, Esq.  MedLaw Program (716) 853-3087 ext 250

- MedLaw is a unique collaboration that unites medical provider with a legal services agency. Adds an attorney tothe patient’s care team. 



-Current medical partners include: ECMC, Kaleida (Buffalo General Hospital and Gates Vascular, soon to add Millard Fillmore Suburban), and WNY Breast Health.

- ECMC MedLaw program is located on the 3rd floor of the Snyder Building.
-Research has demonstrated that patients tend to be healthier, have decreased hospital admittance, better medication management, better physical and mental health, more stable housing, access to more financial resources, and clinical services are more frequently reimbursed by public and private payers when linked with a legal service.

- MedLaw program provides free civil legal services.
-Two on-site Legal Assistance Centers- Direct referrals from ECMC, Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute and other healthcare providers/staff
-Ability to meet with patients easily

o Patients being treated by ECMC or BGMC/GVI are eligible
o Any breast cancer patient or survivor is eligible

-Receive referrals directly from hospitals/medical providers.

-Participate in Community Education Events- free education on a variety of topics.

Available Legal Services: I-HELP
I= Income and Insurance
H= Housing and Utilities
E= Employment and Education (new diagnosis often affects employment)
L= Legal Status
P= Personal and Family Stability (elder abuse, Power of Attorney, simple wills, kinship, consumer)

MedLaw and Elder Abuse:
Case example: an elderly woman was admitted to the hospital d/t abuse and neglect. She was discharged to a facility for rehab. She feared going home. MedLaw/CELJ was able to assist with completion of a Medicaid application and provided advocacy with facility to ensure client continued to receive the care she needed and safety.
 Case example #2: an elderly woman in a facility whose granddaughter was using her funds, not paying any bills, and also refusing to participate in the Medicaid process. CELJ was able to revoke Power of Attorney, completed Medicaid process, and client was able to stay at the facility.
- What is the biggest barrier of this work? – Identifying or reluctance to disclose what happened.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Updates:
-6,000 Meals on Wheels recipients
-Goal: provide 700 caring cards for smaller programs
-Mask and sanitizer with each card
-All recipients will receive a rack card with information on elder abuse and resources.
-Theme: “Reach Out, Speak Out”
-Focus on isolation and prevalence of scams.
-Press Conference: June 15th at 1:00pm, steps of 92 Franklin
-Purple landmarks


- Apple and Amazon

- FBI/CIA scam- secondary scams

*Next meeting: Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at 9:00am via Zoom.

If you Suspect Abuse, TAKE ACTION!

More than 1,500 cases of elder abuse are reported each year in Erie County. Many more cases are never reported.

If you suspect abuse and would like legal assistance, please contact:

Center for Elder Law & Justice:


For immediate assistance 24 hours a day, please contact:

Crisis Services Hotline at:


If you suspect someone is being abused, please contact:

Erie County Protective Services for Adults: 


For general information on programs or referrals, please contact:

Erie County Department of Senior Services / NY Connects: 


            In an emergency, call 911

For Elder Shelter screening tool, please visit the Elder Shelter Page located under the "Elder Shelter" tab at the top of your screen