A voluntary organization working out of Yad Sarah chapters around the country intervenes to curb elderly abuse and give legal advice, but the 850 people served so far is just a drop in the bucket, given the prevalence of the problem.
Although the elderly constitute about 10 percent – and growing portion – of the population, they are usually powerless or too fearful to defend themselves and demand their rights.
The volunteer group, which marked the second World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Sunday, is Yad Riva (www.yadriva.org.il). The non-profit organization, headed by lawyer Mickey Schindler, was founded in 1984 to provide free legal assistance and support to elderly who suffer from abuse and exploitation, often from family members and caregivers.
According to a survey, elder abuse afflicts nearly one-fifth of seniors. That includes physical or sexual violence, verbal abuse, limitations on freedom, and financial exploitation, all of which damage the quality of life of the senior citizen and cause suffering.
Yad Riva receives financial support from the United Jewish Federation of New York, Eshel, municipalities, and other institutions.
Yad Sarah, which gives space in its branches to the organization, noted that close family members and others may extort, neglect, abuse the elderly, and force them to give money or possessions in exchange for care.
Yad Riva has volunteer lawyers and others to defend the elderly in court and restore their rights and property.
The elderly are usually reluctant to file complaints against their children or other family members, because they love them or fear retribution, said Schindler.
Yad Riva, which has some 100 volunteers, mostly lawyers, and a small staff, has sent them to give some 150 free lectures to seniors in the past year. A total of 10,000 elderly and professionals attended. The volunteers also make home visits.