The Senate Special Committee on Aging invited the public to a hearing on the issue of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Presentations from panelists, the most famous of which was actor Mickey Rooney, and findings of the Government Accountability Office report, which concluded that the current federal response is lacking, each shed some light on an often ignored topic.
Senator Herb Kohl , Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, addressed the recent Government Accountability Office report by highlighting his plans to introduce more legislation to protect our nation’s seniors. Naming the “Elder Abuse Victims Act,” which would establish an Office of Elder Justice within the Justice Department, “Senior Financial Empowerment Act,” which would attempt to prevent fraud targeting seniors, and the “End Abuse in Later Life Act,” which addresses domestic abuse among seniors, as three ways he plans to increase the federal response to elder abuse.
Actor Mickey Rooney’s testimony added a personal element to the hearing by explaining his personal story of abuse. “My money was taken and misused,” described Rooney,” When I asked for information, I was told that I couldn’t have any of my own information. I was told it was ‘for my own good’ and that ‘it was none of my business.’ I was literally left powerless.” Mickey Rooney described the difficulty of stopping the abuse, “For years I suffered silently. I couldn’t muster the courage to seek the help I knew I needed. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to be quiet. It seemed like no one believed me.”
Mickey Rooney’s story is a common one. According to a study shared at the hearing and conducted by Cornell University and The New York City Department of Aging, 1 in 13 seniors reported experiencing a form of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in the previous year. The study also found that most of these cases go unreported with only 1 in 25 cases of abuse ever getting officially documented. With so many of our nations suffering from elder abuse, now is the perfect time to take action. “To those victims of abuse, there is no bigger problem in the world.” explained Senator Kohl (D-WI), “To the rest of us charged with stopping it, it should be a priority.”
- Watch the hearing in its entirety.
- Download the General Accountability Office report
- Also be sure to check out the story from ABC news.
Reprinted from the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). For more information on their organization, visit them on the web at www.alfa.org.