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Elder Advocates Visit U.S. Congress in National Advocacy Day

September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

On September 15, roughly 150 advocates for elder rights from around the United States will be visiting their representatives in the U.S. Congress in an Advocacy Day organized by WITNESS partner NCOA, the National Council on Aging. Among the issues they’ll be advocating for is the passing of the Elder Justice Act (EJA), federal legislation that would provide a foundation to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in and prosecute elder abuse.

Each year, an estimated 5 million elders in the U.S. are subject to physical, financial, and mental abuse resulting in illness, suffering, and premature death.   WITNESS and NCOA are working on a new video that will Break the Silence on this crisis and urge Congress to prioritize and pass the EJA.  Several elders and advocates have already sent their video messages to Congress.  You can take action too!

3 Things You Can Do Now

  1. Sign this petition calling on Congress to Pass the EJA
  2. Call your senators and representatives and ask them to support the EJA
  3. Help Break the Silence and Share Your Story of elder abuse via text or video

Is Elder Financial Abuse the Crime of the 21st Century?

According to Fred Joseph, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, “Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century’’. He was quoted in a Washington Post article that focused on the link between the growing recession in the U.S. and the increase in elder financial abuse. Though there may be debate about if elder financial abuse is the ‘crime of the century’, there is no doubt that it is a burgeoning crisis in the U.S. This video from the California Attorney General’s Office is a good introduction to the issue – and how to help prevent elder financial abuse.

As we’ve written about, WITNESS and the National Council on Aging have partnered to address a silent crisis in America: elder abuse. This summer and fall, dozens of video stories and testimonies about elder abuse, some from the estimated annual five million victims of elder abuse, are being gathered and shared to help break the silence and pass the Elder Justice Act, pending legislation that will provide holistic support to help detect, prosecute and prevent elder abuse.

Elder abuse can take many forms (which you can learn more about here and here), one of which is the financial abuse of seniors – the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Examples range from the financial abuse my colleague Kelly’s grandmother endured when she was swindled by a door-to-door salesman (read thief) to a family member signing checks from their elder’s account without permission.

Though underreported, the annual loss is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion, according to a recent report (pdf) from MetLife Mature Market Institute, produced in conjunction with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and Virginia Tech University. It goes on to state that the typical victim of elder abuse is a woman over 75 who lives alone and the “increased aging population, social changes, and technology advances will lead to a dramatic increase in the opportunity for a growing level of elder abuse”.

Groups around the country are working to highlight the urgency of elder financial abuse – particularly during these tough economic times – and helping to provide services to victims and their families. Below, please find a few resources that may be of assistance.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse has a very good financial abuse section.

The Elder Financial Protection Network works to prevent financial abuse and has a section on elder financial abuse and a great petition to help pass the Elder Justice Act – add your signature!

To report elder abuse you can call 800.677.1116 or visit the National Center on Elder Abuse to find a local office; and Adult Protective Services– is always a great resource!

Learn More About Elder Abuse

A background on the elder justice now campaign

FAQ about elder abuse

What the Elder Justice Act is and will do

WITNESS’ Partner: NCOA

Take Action Now!

Help Raise Awareness About Elder Justice

Share Your Story to Help Break the Silence

Sign-up for WITNESS’ Newsletter to Keep Informed and to Take Action

Watch Elder Justice-Related Videos

WATCH the campaign video: Break the Silence – Elder Abuse in America

WITNESS Blog: Spotlight on Elder Abuse Videos for Change

Elder Abuse-Related Videos on the Hub

Break the Silence: Elder Abuse in America [Video]

There is a silent crisis that effects every community in America: Elder abuse. Each year an estimated 5 million of America’s older adults are beaten, ignored or financially exploited. Yet, as a country, we remain silent about this growing crisis.

To begin to address this problem, Congress has an immediate opportunity to pass federal legislation that will provide a foundation from which we can begin to protect our country’s elders — the Elder Justice Act. But we cannot do this without your help. Please help us break the silence by adding your voice to the national campaign and urge Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act now!

3 Things You Can DO

More Information on the Elder Justice Act and the campaign to get it passed