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.
Earlier today (Sept. 22, 2009), Finance Chairman Max Baucus released a list of proposed amendments that he was immediately accepting for addition to the health care legislation. This document – called the "Chairman's Mark" – includes the original health reform legislation plus the automatically adopted amendments. This will likely the base text that the Committee members will debate. And the good news – The Elder Justice Act (EJA) was included in the Chairman’s Mark!
What does this mean for the Elder Justice Act? It means that if the Finance Committee approves its version of health reform legislation later this week or next, the Senate will have once again approved the Elder Justice Act. But we still need the House in order for EJA to become law.
It also means your voice is crucial for securing House support for the Elder Justice Act.
To act today:
1) Write to or call your Senator or Representative today to request support for the EJA – include a link to one of the below videos or click here to upload from YouTube to make your message more powerful.
2) Sign this petition and call on the U.S. Congress to act now.
3) Share a story via text or video: help us break the silence by adding your voice to the national campaign and urge Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act now!
4) Forward this to your friends and anyone who cares about older Americans.
This week offers a critical opportunity to advance the Elder Justice Act—a law that will finally bring a coordinated approach to ending elder abuse in this country.
You can help.
The Senate Finance Committee is considering the Elder Justice Act as an amendment to its health reform bill. This amendment would represent the most significant federal commitment to date to combat elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It provides an unprecedented and dedicated funding stream for Adult Protective Services (APS), which operate in all states and are the frontline workers helping elder abuse victims.
It is critical the Elder Justice Act pass now because elder abuse is a growing national epidemic. There is elder abuse occurring in every zip code in the United States affecting our health care system, our economy and our social fabric. Click VIDEO to see and hear the stories of some our America’s abused and neglected elders from older adults themselves, their families and those who serve them in local communities across the country. These elders and advocates share their stories and beliefs because we, as a country, have to step up and protect older Americans now. We hope that once you have seen their stories you will take up this charge along with us.
This is a critical moment and we need your help – please:
1) Write to or call your Senator or Representative today to request support for the EJA – include a link to one of these videos to make your message more powerful
Carolyn Crewey, of Houston Texas, is a survivor of elder financial abuse. At age 90, Carolyn lost her home, much of her furniture, and had her bank account compromised at the hands of a ‘good friend.’ Carolyn is one of many elderly women affected by elder abuse.
The “typical” victim of elder financial abuse is between the ages of 70 and 89, white, female, frail, and frequently cognitively impaired.
The Elder Justice Act will help identify and share the best ways to prevent abuse and protect America’s seniors. Congress needs to act now to pass this important legislation.
Senior fraud is all too common to Asst. District Attorney Joanne Woodruff of San Antonio, Texas. In Bexar County District alone, there are 150 active cases of elder abuse. Here she tells about a case involving a supposed friend of an elderly man. This ‘friend’ deceitfully gained the rights to access the gentleman’s bank accounts, took the victim’s money and refused his sister the opportunity to see him on his deathbed.
Elder financial abuse, while under-reported, accounts for an annual loss by victims of an estimated $2.6 billion.
It is time for Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act. Your help is needed.
Raul Navarro of Houston, TX, tells how his mother was physically abused and neglected while staying in a nursing home.
Every day, millions of older Americans are beaten, ignored or financially exploited.
The Elder Justice Act would fund a public awareness campaign around prevention and best practices targeting law enforcement, financial institutions, caregivers and family members.
Your support is needed. Get involved. Take action now.
Mary Roberts of Houston, Texas speaks on behalf of “the seniors that you have and the seniors that you will become,” asking Congress to “pass the Elder Justice Act because the quality of our life will be better and we will longer.”
Each year an estimated 5 million of America’s older adults are beaten, ignored or financially exploited.
It is time for Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act. Your help is needed.
Lydia Delgado of Houston is a case worker and tells of a case of neglect in which adult protective services helped the family better care for the elder. She calls on Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to support the Elder Justice Act.
Older adults who experience mistreatment have a 300% higher risk of death.
The Elder Justice Act would provide needed funds for those who have been fighting elder abuse on the front lines.
During a visit to Stein Senior Center, Helen Murray urges Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act on behalf of those who are even older than she and those who will become elders in future!
The numbers of those elderly who are abused will only grow as the baby boomers age into their 60s.
The Elder Justice Act would share best practices, provide education, awareness and training, increase the ability to prosecute elder abuse and ensure that front line workers have the resources and information they need.
To be a part in a national effort to raise awareness about the growing problem of abuse, we encourage you to Host-A-Screening of the short documentary film, An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America. By hosting a community screening of the film you will be protecting the dignity of today’s seniors and helping to ensure we can all live free from abuse tomorrow.
DVD NOW AVAILABLE
To order a DVD of An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America go to the WITNESS Store.