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Indiana’s only shelter for victims of elder abuse opens

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s a place to go for senior citizens who are victims of abuse, and it’s the only shelter of its kind in the state of Indiana.

Officials say the problem has only gotten worse since the pandemic.

According to the National Council on Aging, about 10% of Americans older than 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse whether physical, emotional or even sexual abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

“It’s truly an historic moment in Indianapolis,” Hooverwood Living CEO Evan Lubline said.

It means for the first time in almost 30 years, Marion County has a specific and special location to house victims of elder abuse.

“These individuals have physical, sexual, emotional psychological and finance abusers out there,” Lubline said. “We’re here to help them out. Abusers can be both men and women, caregivers. Now they have a safe haven at Hooverwood.”

The Shalom Sanctuary Center for Elder Abuse is part of Hooverwood Living, a facility with 155 nursing home beds and 26 assisted living beds located near West 73rd Street and Spring Mill Road.

When notification is made, either directly from the victim or perhaps a family member or through the hospital or emergency room, a victim will be placed in one of the empty rooms.

“We’re always going to have a few beds available,” Lubline said.

Victims can stay an average of 30-120 days to give them time to arrange a good long-term plan and safe place to be discharged to, even if it’s staying at Hooverwood.

Staff already on hand will have specialized training in how to help meet a variety of emotional, psychological and financial needs. However, a dedicated director of the Sanctuary Center has been newly hired to get the program off the ground.

The full name for the shelter is Shalom Sanctuary Center for Elder Abuse, a part of the Hooverwood Living Family, which was made possible by the generosity of Sidney and Sharon Mishkin in Loving Memory of Libby Lasky Bender.

Lubline says this is the 15th elder abuse shelter in the country.

“We hope that others in Indiana will consider this and we can help replicate throughout the state,” he said.

Most victims can use Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance to pay for their stay, though there’s also been about $100,000 in donations and grant funding that’s been raised to help.

“For us, if we can help one person out in all of 2021, we’re doing our job,” Lubline said.

He expects 12-15 people to use the Sanctuary Center annually.

Some estimates suggest more than 5 million seniors are abused each year with only one in 24 cases reported to authorities.

If you believe you know someone is in immediate danger, including yourself, call 911. You can also call an Adult Protective Services or the police.

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