“[This meant that there were] a lot of people [without affordable housing in California. There was] only one of me, my boss and support staff [performing this work]. We wanted to produce something of value.”
Firstly, Aery said, the coalition performed assessments of units and properties in rural communities. Coalition staff visited the member organizations in their offices. They examined the current services of their organizations, resident characteristics and site capacity.
Secondly, coalition personnel examined the implementation of the coalition’s recommendations and directives through resident surveys, educator workshops about financial empowerment and roundtable discussions, she said.
The surveys consisted of 11 questions, which were multiple choice, and were meant to be confidential. Aery said that the objective was to discover what seniors were dealing with in terms of banks and financial exploitation.
She explained that senior respondents were asked about checking accounts, banking and check cashing. Coalition staff found it interesting to tabulate the number and type of questions they skipped on the surveys.
“[We examined] implementation [at our] roundtable discussions,” Aery said. “We wanted to show real people are being affected. [We wanted to] do something other than surveys.
“[So we carried out] raffles for surveys. [We had] appetizers [and drinks for] two-hour long discussion events.” The events occurred at the Reserve Bank in Napa, California.
At the event, she said 15 to 25 older adults related the incidences of quality services, abuse, neglect and exploitation they experienced and the time of the events. There were three- to five-person discussion groups to allow them to share stories of banking experiences.
She added that coalition staff discussed implementation of the umbrella group’s recommendations of housing and financial services at the financial education workshops. Coalition personnel have used these discussions and data to implement solutions to the problems raised by seniors attending the event.
The seniors at the event, Aery said, “strengthened the well-being of their peers [through open dialogue].”
“[We talked about] examples,” Aery said. “[We presented scenarios of seniors who] won a fake lottery or [who participated in] a fake banking event. [Seniors explained] what they [would] like to [have] happened and [what actually] happened. Each group talked to everyone [after their own discussion sessions]. People were excited.”
Elaine A. Chen, training coordinator of the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology in Orange County, Calif., said the center is performing similar age-friendly banking activity. The center serves as the local clearinghouse for the federal National Center on Elder Abuse with funding from the federal Administration on Aging (AoA).