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By Hon. Gail Prudenti

Hon. Gail Prudenti

Before this decade is over, about a quarter of New York State’s population will be over the age of 60. Meanwhile, the 85-and-up populace is the fastest growing demographic subset in the state. This is a population that is inherently susceptible to abuse and exploitation, and the type of people who would take advantage of these vulnerable citizens know it.

A common con is the “grandma, it’s me” scam: A hysterical young person calls, pretending to be a grandchild and claiming to be in trouble for driving under the influence of cannabis and begging them not to tell the parents. The “grandchild,” whose voice is a little hard to make out because of the fake crying, puts a fake police officer on the phone, who instructs the victim to quickly wire over several thousand dollars for bail. 

I am aware of an elderly couple — well-educated, intelligent people in their mid-80s — who fell for it, thinking their beloved grandson needed their help. They’re out $5,000.

Although as a group those over 65 are much less likely to become crime victims than younger people, the elderly are increasingly victimized by various forms of abuse — physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment and, most commonly, financial exploitation. Solid statistics, though, are hard to come by since we only know what has been reported and, in many jurisdictions, mandatory reporting laws are either weak or inconsistent.

The federal government’s estimates range from 500,000 to two million incidents of elder abuse annually. In New York, the Office for the Aging cites the incidence of elder abuse at about 300,000 per year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contends one in 10 Americans aged 60 and above have experienced some form of elder abuse in the last year alone.

A study by the New York State Bar Association, Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, showed that 14 percent of all older adults in New York State experienced some form of elder abuse since turning 60. What’s more, the Bar Association report concluded that for every incident documented by state agencies, 24 went unreported. Tragically, many elderly victims won’t report because they are embarrassed and that includes the couple I mentioned earlier who fell the “grandma it’s me” scam), or because the abuser is their caretaker—the only person nearby that they can “rely” on.

Researchers and experts can’t seem to agree on what “elder” means — over 60? over 65? or is it a matter of mental capacity rather than an arbitrary age? — let along what all constitutes “elder abuse.” What we do know is that the many, many shapes of elder abuse implicate all sorts of laws, criminal and civil.

Our criminal courts increasingly deal with physical assaults, fraud and other crimes perpetrated against an older population.

Our civil courts deal with such thorny issues as competency: Does the elderly person have the capacity to sign a contract, and if not is the contract enforceable?; does the elderly person have the capacity to consent to or refuse medical treatment?; does the elderly person have the capacity to intelligently change his or her will?; does the elderly person have the capacity to consent to marriage—and what standing has the relative convinced that the suitor is trying to work his way into grandma’s estate rather than her heart? These are thorny legal questions, and oftentimes there is no clear answer.

I think we all need to be on the alert for the signs of possible elder abuse. Are there unexplained bumps and bruises, and does the older person become guarded when you inquire? Does the individual suddenly seem withdrawn or scared? Has their personal hygiene declined noticeably? Is the individual transferring assets or writing checks for cash? Is their cellphone off more than it used to be, or are you getting odd responses to texts that may indicate someone else is “managing” their communications? 

The tricky thing is, all of the above could be evidence of elder abuse. Or not.

A bill pending for years in the New York State Legislature would require the state Office for the Aging to develop elder abuse training and offer that training to senior service centers and contractors. However, experts say that elder abuse most commonly occurs in the home, which puts the onus on family, friends and neighbors to know the signs and maintain a watchful eye.

If you witness abuse, call 911. If you suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse, call the NYS Adult Protective Services Helpline at 1-844-697-3505. As with homeland security, if you see something, say something.

Hon. Gail Prudenti is the Former Chief Administrative Judge State of New York and a Partner at Burner Prudenti Law, P.C. focusing her practice on Trusts & Estates. Burner Prudenti Law, P.C. serves clients from New York City to the east end of Long Island with offices located in East Setauket, Westhampton Beach, Manhattan and East Hampton.

This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Prime Times senior supplement on 01/25/24.

The Public Libraries of Suffolk County recently announced that its patrons reached a new milestone: 3.6 million digital books borrowed on in 2023. Consisting of over 56 libraries in Suffolk County, is #15 of all public library consortia and one of 152 total public library systems worldwide that surpassed one million checkouts last calendar year. member libraries have been providing readers 24/7 access to e-books, audiobooks, comic books and other digital content for several years through the award-winning Libby app, the library reading app created by OverDrive. Member libraries include Smithtown Library, Sachem Public Library in Holbrook, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket, Middle Country Public Library in Centereach and Selden, Longwood Public Library in Middle Island and Northport–East Northport Public Library. 

“The Public Libraries of Suffolk County continue to meet the needs of their communities by providing patrons with much-needed access to a wide variety of entertainment and learning opportunities through e-books and audiobooks,” said Kevin Verbesey, Director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System. 

The highest-circulating title readers borrowed in 2023 was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. The New York Times bestseller tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, who becomes a beloved cooking show host in 1960s Southern California after being fired as a chemist four years earlier.

The top-circulating genre, romance, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes thriller, suspense, mystery, children/young adult and more. 

The top five e-book titles borrowed through’s digital collection in 2023 were:

1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

2. Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult

3. It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover

4. Verity by Colleen Hoover

5. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

The top five audiobook titles borrowed through’s digital collection in 2023 were:

1. Spare by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex 

2. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus 

3. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros 

4. It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover 

5. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Suffolk County residents just need a valid library card from a member library to access digital books from Livebrary’s OverDrive-powered digital collection.  Readers can use any major device, including Apple(R), Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle(R) (U.S. only). Download the Libby app or visit to borrow e-books, audiobooks and more.

This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Prime Times senior supplement on 01/25/24.

Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack has been recognized on Newsweek Magazine’s list of America’s Best Nursing Homes 2024, securing a top 15 spot on the list of Best Nursing Homes in New York 2024.

Compiled in partnership with global data research firm Statista, Newsweek’s annual ranking evaluates skilled nursing providers throughout the United States.  Data used to determine the best nursing homes is culled from five sources, including Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services performance data, peer survey data, management of COVID-19, as well as accreditation and resident satisfaction data from The Joint Commission and Commission.

“We are extremely proud of our continued recognition on Newsweek’s top nursing home list,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System. “To be acknowledged once again for providing the highest quality healthcare services is a testament of the hard work and dedication of our entire team, and the compassionate, person-centered care they provide to all those who turn to Gurwin in their time of need.” For more information, visit

Jefferson's Ferry

Jefferson’s Ferry, a Life Plan community located in South Setauket, was recently named among the top nursing homes in New York State by U.S. News and World report. Jefferson’s Ferry received a 5 out of 5 rating overall, also achieving the top (3 out of 3) high performance rating in multiple categories including short term rehabilitation and long term care.

The rigorous U.S. News & World Report standards for Best Nursing Homes in New York is determined by state-conducted health inspections, nursing staffing and medical quality measures. They evaluate more than 15,000 nursing homes on care, safety, infection rates, staffing and health inspections. Of the more than 600 nursing homes in New York, Jefferson’s Ferry stood out as one of the best in the state and one of only 10 recognized for excellence on Long Island.

“Being named among the Best Nursing Homes in New York is a great honor and a testament to the outstanding care our exceptional staff provides each day to every resident,” said Bob Caulfield, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jefferson’s Ferry. “We take great pride in cultivating and recognizing the exceptional talent and compassion demonstrated by our staff, which has a direct impact on the superior care we provide to our residents. This is what is at the heart of Jefferson’s Ferry.”

Anthony Comerford, Vice President of Health Services at Jefferson’s Ferry concurred and added, “This prestigious acknowledgement not only showcases Jefferson’s Ferry commitment to providing outstanding care and service to its residents, it is especially gratifying to our staff and management to have their commitment and professionalism documented by such a well recognized outside authority.” For more information visit

Photo from Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center brought the magic of the MACY*S Thanksgiving Parade to the heart of their nursing home community with their third annual Gurwin Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“Our Gurwin Thanksgiving Parade has become a new tradition that is beloved by our residents, staff and visitors” said Kathleen Biggs, Assistant Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Gurwin. “We are so pleased to be able to bring the magic of the holiday season to our residents and to share this special time with them.”

Gurwin’s creative Therapeutic Recreation staff turned 18 medical carts into brightly colored “floats” decorated in themes including Garfield, Spiderman and Mickey Mouse, akin to the iconic balloon floats from the MACY*S parade. The base of each float was created in five hours while all balloons seen on the floats took four hours to be inflated. Guided by 10 handlers in Thanksgiving-themed attire, the homemade floats wound their way along the parade route, through vestibules and hallways, their twinkling lights shining for the nearly 400 short- and long-term residents currently living at Gurwin.

The parade was led by four-year-old Lily, daughter of Nicole Hopper, Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Gurwin, and Dr. Frank Hansen and the Commack High School Jazz Messengers Band, who provided live music for Gurwin residents to get in the holiday spirit.

“The Gurwin Thanksgiving Parade is a wonderful kickoff to the holiday season,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System. “We are so thankful to our talented and compassionate staff who work tirelessly to support the physical and emotional needs of our residents. Our unique parade creates a holiday buzz throughout the Gurwin community; it has become a much-anticipated event by all.”


Brandpoint photo

You may have heard about older adults being tricked into sending money to someone they think is a grandchild or other relative in trouble and thought to yourself, “How could anyone fall for that?” But the truth is, today’s advanced technology makes it easier than ever for scammers to trick their unsuspecting and well-meaning victims.

To protect yourself, it pays to understand how fraudsters work, what red flags to look for, and how to trust your instincts so you don’t end up on the losing end of one of these vicious scams.

How grandparent scams work

Scammers prey on kind-hearted victims by convincing people their grandchild or other relative has had an accident or is in some kind of legal or financial trouble. The scammers then plead for money to get them out of the “jam.”

For years, criminals have been able to gather facts and personal information from people’s social media accounts to contact their older relatives. Once the criminals contact older relatives via text, email or phone, the criminals can sound very convincingly like a relative in dire trouble.

The A.I. twist

Because of advances in artificial intelligence (A.I.), criminals can now make their pleas for cash sound even more convincing when calling on the phone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these scammers use A.I. voice cloning software to mimic your relative’s voice by pulling the audio from their social media videos.

Unfortunately, scammers often couple this tactic with a “spoofed” phone number that shows up on your caller ID with your relative’s name, so it looks like it’s really them calling you.

How to spot red flags

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent criminals from stealing from you. The United States Postal Inspection Service® recommends a few simple steps to avoid being taken by this extremely vicious scam:

* Late-night calls. Scammers often call victims in the middle of the night, hoping to catch you when you’re not fully awake and less likely to think clearly. If that happens to you, tell them you’ll call them right back. You can then take the time to fully wake up, gather your wits and contact your grandchild or relative via the method you usually use to talk to them. Do not return the call you just received.

* Urgent pleas for money. Be suspicious of any phone calls including requests for money, even if it sounds like someone you know. Scammers use fear to get you worried about your loved one, so you won’t take the time to think things through. If someone asks for money right away, hang up. Contact your loved one the way you usually contact them, and/or check with other trusted family members first.

* Requests for odd methods of payment. If you’re asked to send money using methods like a mobile payment app, mailing cash, wiring money, sending gift cards or money orders, or other unusual payment methods, hang up. Once money is sent using these methods, there’s no way to get it back. If you are asked to meet somewhere so you can give them cash in person, hang up and report the incident to law enforcement.

If you’ve been affected by crime that involves the U.S. Mail®, contact the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or report it online at If you think you’ve been targeted by a grandparent scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 888-225-5322, or visit

Learn more about elder fraud at

Above, 100+ year-old Gurwin nursing home residents welcome Disney to the Gurwin Centenarians Club with official certificate.Photo by Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

More than 300 residents and staff of Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack recently celebrated a century of Disney’s rich history of magic and storytelling with a 100-year jubilee commemorating both the milestone anniversary as well as Gurwin centenarians who inducted Disney into the “Gurwin Centenarian Club. ”

“We are so excited that our residents are able to celebrate Disney’s 100th birthday as if they were actually at Disney themselves,” said Nicole Hopper, CTRS, Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Gurwin Center. “Since our residents are unable to travel to Disney, we decided to bring the magic of Disney to them.”

Gurwin Assisted Living Residents “Visit” Epcot in Celebration of Disney’s 100th Anniversary. Photo from Gurwin Jewish~ Fay J. Lindner Residences

The essence of Magic Kingdom was experienced by all who stepped into the Center’s Simon Rainbow Room’s “100 Years of Wonder” event. Created by Gurwin staff dressed as Mouseketeers and other memorable Disney characters, the spectacular celebration was filled with Disney-themed memorabilia and activities, such as a Magic Kingdom photo booth, meet-and-greet characters and a caricature artist who sketched portraits of the residents and staff. 

Gurwin residents enjoyed viewing Disney classics on the big screen, a learn-to-draw Mickey Mouse art station, and decadent Disney theme-park desserts such as churros, soft pretzels and the iconic Disney waffles. The celebration ended in true Disney fashion with the famous “Happily Ever After” firework show displayed on the big screen, much to the delight of residents, family members and staff.

The highlight: a ceremonial induction of Disney into Gurwin’s Centenarian Club.  Residents Genevieve Fedele, 103, and soon-to-be 100-year-old Esther Halfon, presented an honorary certificate to Disney as the club’s newest member, offering sage words of advice:  “Keep making magic!”

In addition to the celebration at the Gurwin Center, residents of Gurwin’s Assisted Living community, Fountaingate Gardens Independent Living Community and Island Nursing and Rehab Center in Holtsville, also a member of the Gurwin Healthcare System, participated in Epcot-themed celebrations and special Disney magic.

“Our staff across the System poured their hearts into creating enchanting events for all of our residents,” said Stuart B. Almer, President and CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System. “It was a wonderful day of nostalgic festivities, with the icing on the cake being our 100+ year-old residents welcoming Disney into the Gurwin Centenarians Club.  We are so fortunate to have such a talented and caring team that creates such amazing experiences for our residents, their families and our staff members as well.”

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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

A woman I know is now a widow. She has two adult children but lives many miles from them. In order to visit her home and her town, which are located in a beautiful part of the country, they are required to take two flights, then drive a couple of hours to reach her.

The relationship she had with her late husband was not so different from many couples: she took care of the shopping and cooking, and he paid the bills and balanced the checking account. They both loved their house and how they lived.

But life for her has taken a turn.

Not only is she now alone, she is approaching 80 and has trouble walking. She manages the aisles of the supermarket with difficulty, and so hasn’t had any fresh produce or other perishables in a month. As a result, she is not eating well. Her son is coming shortly to manage her finances and fix whatever might need repair in the home, but he has to leave his own children and his job to do that. As a result, the number of visits he can make is limited. Her daughter, who lives in a big city and has a demanding job, has yet to come. Another relative, who lives across the country, recently offered several days of help but cannot do that with any regularity.

Unsurprisingly, all are urging her to move closer to one of them.

“I want to stay in my own home!” is her adamant reply. She wants to age in place. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

She is no different from 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 who say they prefer to stay in their current residence as they age.This is a major issue. Can this woman remain in her home? Can any of us, as we age, plan to remain in our homes?

Some considerations include home preparation. Can she avoid falling? Among the greatest threats to older people is falling, a leading cause of injurious death. That may be prevented by installing grab bars in the shower, railings on the stairs, avoiding loose throw rugs and obstructed pathways. Increased lighting, walk-in bathtubs, sliding shelves,  even walk-in showers can greatly aid all of us, whether we are aged or not yet there.

Technology can also be a help. This woman’s son can pay her bills remotely, if appropriate arrangements are made with her bank. He can also order various items she may need over the internet, including food from the local markets. The reaction to COVID-19 is to be thanked for the ease and wide-spread availability of remote purchasing plus delivery. And, with a little patience on the part of the younger generation, she might be taught to use the computer to order for herself.

To help her walking, she might get hiking poles or an electric wheelchair or even an electric scooter to ride to her friends in the neighborhood if she doesn’t want to use a cane or a walker. Some 32 percent of those over age 65 have difficulty walking, so this is not so strange.

Cognitive problems, which she doesn’t have but, according to statistics, 1 out of 5 people over 55 will experience, can be mitigated by some help from local social services. Research by her family would be required. But this presents a more severe need that may involve moving into an assisted living facility in the community.

Older adults should not have to leave the towns and school districts they have paid taxes to help maintain over the years and the familiarity and daily support system that has built up around them during their long residence.

We need to give more attention and planning to this segment of the people. And we need to follow their lead rather than demand they change their lives.

Gurwin Jewish ~ Fay J. Lindner Residences assisted living community in Commack welcomed its first resident of their newly built studio apartments with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 22.

The 18 new studio apartment homes offer a stylish, modern feel, and range in size from 241 to 278 sq. ft. Each studio includes living/sleeping areas, a kitchenette with stainless steel appliances, spacious closets, and fully ADA-equipped bathrooms. Large windows welcome natural sunlight and several of the apartments feature courtyard views.

“The new studio apartments at Gurwin Assisted Living were a perfect option,” said Marianne DeSilva, formerly of Mount Sinai, Long Island. “A smaller apartment is fine for me, especially because I am still part of the larger community.”

The construction of the new studios marks a new choice option for the 210-luxury apartment community, located on the GurwinHealthcare System’s lush 36-acre Commack campus, and comes in response to market interest for more streamlined residences at a lower price point. Pricing begins at $4,950 per month and includes three chef-prepared meals daily, housekeeping, personal laundry and maintenance services, medical appointment transportation and emergency response connectivity. Residents enjoy a bustling calendar of enriching social activities, special events and local excursions.

“We are so excited to welcome Marianne as the first resident of our new studio apartments,” said Stuart B. Almer, Chief Executive Officer of r. “Our beautiful new studios meet the needs of Long Island seniors who desire a comfortable, smaller footprint residence within a caring, active and vibrant community.”

Gurwin’s Assisted Living community includes a formal dining room, a well-stocked library, tastefully appointed gathering areas, activity rooms, a synagogue, beauty/barber salon and rooms to host guests and family. Residents also have priority access to all levels of Gurwin’s care, including Gurwin’s rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility and on-site dialysis, home care programs and adult day care. In addition, residents enjoy the community’s manicured gardens, beautifully landscaped walking paths, and myriad outdoor activities including a shuffleboard court, putting green and LifeTrail exercise stations.

For information about Gurwin’s assisted living community, contact Beth at 631-715-8500.