Join the Fight Against Elder Abuse

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is critical to helping seniors live independently as they age.  This is the second in a three-part series to outline the importance of programs funded by the OAA to the dignity of seniors across America. [UPDATE 2/10/15: The Senate HELP Committee has unanimously approved the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill which AARP supports. It now awaits a full vote in the Senate.]


Elder abuse is tragic and unacceptable. As Americans, we have a responsibility to make sure our seniors live free of abuse and exploitation — and since 1965, that’s what the Older Americans Act has helped to do. But Congress has failed to act, and the bill’s authorization has been expired since 2011. That means for the last three years, Americans ages 60 and older have been without full authorization of the law that they deserve.

10914879_10152901706821355_1350437677611765401_oIt can be a family member neglecting the needs of older relatives or exploiting them for financial gain. It can be a care facility staff causing a senior emotional or physical pain. Or it can be a crooked financial adviser taking advantage of an elderly client.

How does the OAA help? For starters, the OAA provides for a long-term care ombudsman in every state, who serves as an advocate and watchdog for seniors living in nursing homes and other adult care facilities.

When the ombudsmen enter a facility, the only people they have to answer to are the residents. Not only can they not be barred from the facility by administrators or staff, but they aren’t required to schedule or a visit. They have the right to inspect conditions at any facility in the state at a moment’s notice, so facilities can’t just be on their best behavior when they know the ombudsman is coming.

When these ombudsmen visit frequently and become familiar faces to the residents, they can serve as reliable confidants for seniors who feel mistreated, yet who often feel hesitant to report their plight to facility administrators for fear of retaliation from the staff. The ombudsman also reviews all complaints filed to the state and looks for troubling trends — for example, if one facility has multiple residents lodging similar complaints, the ombudsman will know when and where to pay a visit.

The Boots on the Ground

When it comes to fighting financial abuse, the OAA provides supplementary funding for Adult Protective Services, locally funded agencies which one advocate referred to as providing the “boots on the ground in the fight against elder abuse.”

While many people think financial abuse could never happen to them, the truth is it can happen to anyone. Even a beloved celebrity like the late, great Mickey Rooney can fall victim to exploitation. In his case, it was a family member who effectively robbed his estate. At a Senate hearing in 2011, Rooney described what it felt like to be financially exploited:

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Mickey Rooney testifies before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. — Charlie Archambault

You can be in control of your life one minute and in the next minute, you have absolutely no control. […] In my case, I was eventually and completely stripped of the ability to make even the most basic decisions in my own life.

 

Mickey is far from alone. One million older Americans lose $2.6 billion annually as a result of financial abuse, according to one estimate.

As boomers reach retirement age, opportunities for elder abuse will only continue to grow, yet funding for abuse protection has dwindled. Now is not the time for Congress to be cutting back on its efforts to prevent elder abuse.

What’s not clear is why Congress has yet to act to enact legislation that has long had broad bipartisan support. Hopefully this will soon change. A bipartisan bill was recently introduced in the Senate to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, and a Senate committee has scheduled time to consider the bill.  The time to act is now.

As Mickey Rooney said:

If elder abuse happened to me, Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anyone. Myself, who I am, what I hope to be, and what I was, was taken from me. And I’m asking you [Congress] to stop this NOW.

Join us in the fight against elder abuse – tell Congress it’s time to reauthorize the OAA today.

7 comments
elvenflow
elvenflow 5pts

AARP continues to do absolutely nothing about the abuse and death of demented elderly in the hands of ill trained law enforcement who have no idea how to deal with dementia, and says nothing about the shaming of confused elderly (most commonly frontotemporal dementia patients) who have been picked up for stealing.

http://thesmokinggun.com/buster/body-spray/82-year-old-in-body-spray-bust-896520

AARP supports the elderly who are still together enough to pay their fees, past that you're on your own.

myexper
myexper 5pts

THERE IS AN ENORMOUS FORM OF ELDER ABUSE NOT ADDRESSED IN THE ARTICLE:

- Republican plans to cut the Social Security benefits of these same elders is financial abuse. 

- Republican plans to eliminate elders' Medicare is physical abuse.

If (any) Republicans were truly concerned about "elder abuse", why do they continually fight to take away money and health care from elders?

The plans of the Republican Party to cut/eliminate Social Security benefits and kill traditional Medicare is an enormous example of "elder abuse" sitting in front of everybody. THIS ABUSE needs to be addressed by AARP and MORE informed voters.

2Papa
2Papa 5pts

Sign me up.  I'm all for helping in the fight!

se44959457
se44959457 5pts

My mother is 86 & has Dementia. Last month she spent $2000 for "Charitable" contributions. While doing research into said entities it was discovered that many were not Charities nor, were they Tax Deductible.

They are Wolves in Advocate Suits. One is an Umbrella Group called the National Center for Public Policy Research, which has Several Sub-Groups that go by The National Task Force for Retirement Security, The National Task Force for Health Care Reform & American Criminal Justice Center and, Many More. Over the past 30 days this Shell Game has used Scare Tactics in an attempt to extract in Excess of $6000 from my mother. First it was $200 requests & Now they have graduated to $600 per request.

This is but one group of many attempting to Commit Financial Elder Abuse on America's Retired Citizens. It Needs to be Terminated!

mtbranche
mtbranche 5pts

lesson from Florida Consumer Action Council, 1992-5, St.v Lawton Chiles-- we find no facilities for Class Action in abuse cases, only individual complaints could be heard. After three years in the law library, para-legal information research determined that a client, patient, or consumer could not sue. It is the responibility of the State to police personnel.

elvenflow
elvenflow 5pts

@myexper  AARP never speaks up about any real issues, you're wasting your breath.