Crime hot line set up to aid elderly victims BALTIMORE COUNTY

August 12, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Starting next month, Baltimore County will begin a program believed to be the first of its kind in the nation -- a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, hot line for senior citizen crime victims who need immediate assistance.

Senior citizens, 60 years and older, who have been injured or who have lost personal belongings will receive attention on an emergency basis through the hot line.

"We believe this is the first program of its kind in the country," County Executive Roger B. Hayden said of the Eldercare Victim Support program.

Mr. Hayden announced the program yesterday with Dr. Philip H. Pushkin, director of the county Department of Aging.

"We will replace their medicines, give them counseling, secure their homes, help them with money, anything that needs to be done," Mr. Hayden said.

The department also will put senior crime victims in temporary housing, if necessary.

After the emergency has been handled, regular services of the Department of Aging will kick in, Mr. Hayden said.

The department is especially interested in reaching seniors who don't have family or friends nearby.

"We'll get in touch with their family members and other agencies that might be able to help," Mr. Hayden said.

The service is free for the victims and will not use tax dollars. Much of the funding will come from income from Senior Expo, an annual fair held in October to raise money for senior programs. Expo raised more than $70,000 last year from booth sales and admission fees.

A team of Department of Aging personnel experienced in counseling the elderly will staff the hot line around the clock. The phone number will be announced when the program begins Sept. 13.

The county has the second highest growth rate in senior citizen population in the country, according to Department of Aging statistics. Dade County in Florida is first. There are 138,000 people 60 years old and over -- 19.2 percent of the population -- in the county, according to the statistics.

George Sunderland, manager of Criminal Justice Services for the American Association of Retired Persons in Washington, D.C., said he had never heard of a program quite like the one being instituted by the county.

"It's quite laudatory," he said. "I travel throughout the country looking at senior citizen programs, and I believe this is one of a kind.

"It's not a usual thing for a department of aging to get involved in something like this," he said. "It's usually just a police matter."

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