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INDIANAPOLIS–Indiana’s only elder abuse shelter has opened its doors. Hooverwood Living has opened the Shalom Sanctuary Center for Elder Abuse.

The shelter is located in Hooverwood Living on 7001 Hoover Road on the north side of Indianapolis near 73rd Street and Spring Mill Road. Hooverwood Living and Kraft Commons, the assisted living center, currently have the capacity to admit older adults without opening a new building or adding additional staff. The shelter will assist older adults in living safely in an environment of their choosing, whether that be in the community, Kraft Commons, Hooverwood, or somewhere else.

“We have the business office, the social workers, and the doctors to be an interdisciplinary team to come together and figure out how to best help these individuals,” said Evan Lubline, Hooverwood’s CEO. “It’s part of the Hooverwood community. Some of them might need help with grocery delivery services, which we can do. Maybe it’s transportation services, which Hooverwood offers. The resources that we have will be unique to those individuals.”

There are 15 elder abuse centers nationally. The last shelter in Indianapolis operated from 1985-1993. 100 people were admitted in Marion County during those eight years.

“1 in 10 seniors are victims of elder abuse and that’s an underestimation because only 1 in 24 cases are ever reported. We saw a natural need. We started talking with hospital systems, doctors, lawyers about what they had seen. As it grew, we saw there was a need for this to help those individuals that don’t have a voice,” said Lubline. “You may not have a ton of cases, but you are really providing a great service.”

Identifying elder abuse can be tricky because it comes in many forms (physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect), but Lubline says when you get help from the right people, it can be done effectively.

“We have critical care nurses at Hooverwood who can help us identify it (elder abuse). Some people may not be able to pick it up, but the ER system will help us out to identify those individuals who maybe were abused. Now that the hospitals know that we’re here for them, there is a special tool to help us identify abuse, but also the needs for each individual patient,” said Lubline.

A typical shelter stay is between 30-120 days. Referrals have to be age 60 and over, in need of temporary shelter, and at risk of experiencing abuse by a caregiver, family member, or other trusted individual.

More than 5 million Americans over 65 experience elder abuse each year. If you or someone you know is in danger of elder abuse, call 911 in an emergency, or contact the Health and Human Services Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.

LISTEN: Full Interview with Evan Lubline