Archive for March, 2011
The New York Times recently published an important editorial on the serious problem of elder abuse in this country. This was a result of the testimony before Congress of actor Mickey Rooney’s recent experience where a family member took advantage of him, leaving Mr. Rooney feeling “trapped, scared, used and frustrated…But, above all, I felt helpless.” As the Times stated in the piece, “Congress should seize the moment to help repair their (the elderly) threadbare web of protection.” The statistics surrounding elder abuse reveal the depth of the problem. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, “Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10%.” Furthermore, NCEA reports “It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.” The Times rightly recommends that Congress establish policies to begin “filling the gaps in data collection and services. The Government Accountability Office found that in 25 of 39 states surveyed, financing for adult protective services had fallen or flat-lined in the last five years.” The GAO also concluded that “Case workers are poorly trained and overwhelmed” and that “federal programs to fight abuse are scattered ineffectively across the Department of Health and Human Services.” Thankfully, with all of the attention spurred by Mr. Rooney’s experience, Senator Herb Kohl and the Senate Committee on Aging are proposing legislation to create an Office of Elder Justice in the Department of Justice to help states enforce protections for older Americans in this country.
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