The Brooke Astor Case: Lessons Learned
A Message from NCOA President and CEO Jim Firman
October 17, 2009
There are important lessons to be learned about elder abuse in America from the now concluded Brooke Astor case.
One is the need to close the loop and ensure federal protection for the nation’s seniors, especially the vulnerable and the frail. Currently, there are federal laws governing domestic violence and child abuse, but few related to elder abuse. In some states like New York and California, there is great attention paid to prosecuting elder abuse. In others, there is not.
Another is that elder abuse can happen to anyone. Take Carolyn Crewey of Houston, Texas who, at age 90, lost her home, much of her furniture, and had her bank account compromised at the hands of a ‘good friend.’ Or, Vicki Bastion, 92, of Hayward, California who installed a security gate inside her home to protect her and what values she had left from her grandson and his gang-related friends who had moved in with her.
These video stories and hundreds of others the National Council on Aging and WITNESS have videotaped over the past six months as part of our Elder Justice Now campaign show the need for far more awareness, training and education about elder abuse. Families, caregivers, law enforcement and our financial institutions all need to be on the lookout for its signs.
As a baby boomer, I am concerned that there is little attention being paid to this issue just as the largest generation in history is entering its third age and turning 60. It’s time for Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act, a bill that would provide increased federal resources and leadership to support state and community efforts to prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse.