ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The NY Senate has advanced legislation to protect the rights of seniors. Lawmakers who backed these bills say the need comes from the fact that elder abuse is a problem that is often overlooked, and has gotten worse during the pandemic.

The World Health Organization reported in June 2020 that the previous year saw around 1 in 6 people age 60 and older experience some sort of abuse in community settings.

According to Senator Sean Ryan (D), legal service providers saw a significant increase in clients experiencing elder abuse throughout the last year in Western New York.

The bills passed in the Senate Wednesday, which still need Assembly backing, are supposed to help address this. Measures include one that will establish an elder abuse shelter aftercare pilot program, and another that would direct the state office of aging to develop elder abuse prevention training.

In addition to the issue of elder abuse, a bill in this package seeks to help seniors in the workforce by establishing an office to give them support and services.

Another bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D), prohibits the termination of tenancy in housing facilities, with 20 or more units, occupied by senior citizens and/or persons with disabilities without cause or court approval.

This comes after the New York State Unified Court System released a tool last week to help judges and court personnel address the issues of elder abuse and neglect.

They say elder abuse, which can take the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, happens frequently and impacts older adults of all races, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses.

Financial abuse is particularly rampant with over $36 billion annually taken from older adults nationwide.

The court’s resource guide includes how to identify abuse and neglect, and relevant criminal and civil laws.