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Yet there are glimmers of hope: on June 14, at a White House event commemorating the seventh annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Obama Administration announced initial funding of .5 million for states to test ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also announced that the first meeting of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council will be convened this fall.Organizations receiving grant funding will pilot test interventions in populations at risk: frail elders, people with dementia, and families with a history of violence. At the same event, the Department of Justice’s Deputy Attorney General, James M.Every day brings new reports of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation from across America.Isolated older adults are being denied the care they need. Government Accountability Office (GAO), elder abuse is a widespread and growing problem.As noted in a article, in most cases of financial exploitation, the adult children of abused elders were unaware that their mother or father had received solicitations for money (Olson, 2011).Even attentive children may miss the warning signs. Robert Parker, chief of community geriatrics in the family medicine department at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, who failed to notice that his own mother was a victim of financial abuse. Parker was among those who missed signs of financial misadventures involving his mother, Rosalee, who sent ,000 to enter a lottery in Jamaica, at the behest of friendly phone sales representatives.As a nation, our response is disjointed and the minimal federal investment—.7 million—is spread sparsely across eight agencies and two departments, with little to no coordination.An Investors Protection Trust 2010 survey found that one in five Americans older than age 65 had been defrauded (, 2011).
The legislation seeks to improve coordination between law enforcement, APS programs, and social service providers to create inter-disciplinary “rapid response” teams, and to improve documentation and evidence-gathering processes in suspected cases of elder abuse.
The Committee report, issued in June, notes that “this program, as established in the Elder Justice Act, will provide competitive grants to States to test and evaluate innovative approaches to preventing and responding to elder abuse.” The March 2011 Committee on Aging hearing included poignant testimony by legendary performer Mickey Rooney, who shared his painful account of abuse at the hands of a family member.
His story captured the difficulties many older adults face when confronted by abuse that they do not fully understand and lack the ability to confront.
While this represents a clear step forward, much work remains at the federal level to address the problem of elder abuse.
Toward that end, there are several bills under consideration in Congress.
One of the most popular programs under the OAA is the Meals on Wheels program, which provides a homebound older adult with a hot meal delivered to their doorstep. The Elder Justice Act, included within the Affordable Care Act, authorized funding for state Adult Protective Services (APS) programs and also called for federal coordination of elder abuse prevention activities.