Elder Justice Now! A New Campaign to Address America’s Silent Crisis: Elder Abuse

Regions: United States

Issues: Older persons

Tags: aging, Campaign, elder abuse, elder justice act, NCOA, older persons, seniors, WITNESS

An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America

June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Every year, an estimated five million older Americans are beaten, ignored or financially exploited, causing illness, suffering and premature death. Yet, elder abuse is not perceived as a national tragedy and collectively there is much silence around the issue.

WITNESS has partnered with the National Council on Aging -- a member of the Elder Justice Coalition -- and elder justice advocates across the country to help break the silence and pass the Elder Justice Act -- pending federal legislation that will help ensure that older Americans do not live in fear of being abused physically, psychologically or financially. We need your help.

Protecting Older Americans

There is a triad of domestic violence in our country -- child abuse, violence against women and elder abuse. Congress passed legislation to protect children from abuse in 1974 and women from domestic violence in 1994, but it has yet to take the appropriate action to protect older Americans. With 76 million aging boomers set to retire, this problem is only going to grow. The time to act is now and the starting point from which to begin exists. The Elder Justice Act -- which has been in the hands of Congress since 2002 -- will provide a foundation to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in and prosecute abuse of older Americans.

We can no longer deny our elders the diginity and security they deserve. It’s time to break the silence and speak out against elder abuse. Please join the campaign and urge Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act now!

VIDEO: Why we need to pass the Elder Justice Act

VIDEO: Share Your Story to Help Break the Silence

A primer on the Elder Justice Act, the campaign to get it passed, and how you can help:

A background on the elder justice now campaign

FAQ about elder abuse

What the Elder Justice Act is and will do


Take Action Now!

Help Raise Awareness About Elder Justice - Forward this page and videos

Share Your Story to Help Break the Silence

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

Elder Abuse in the News

Huffington Post (US): Police Taser Great-Grandmother During Traffic Stop (VIDEO)

Sacramento Bee (US): Elder Abuse watchdogs back bill

Elder Justice 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

Additional Resources

World Health Organization's Elder Abuse Publications

Elder Justice Coalition (USA)

National Center on Elder Abuse (USA)

Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect (USA)

UPDATE from Capitol Hill: Three congressional representatives held a briefing on the Elder Justice Act this Thursday, June 18, in the Cannon House Office Building. Speakers included Bob Blancato from the Elder Justice Coalition and Bill Benson of the National Association of Adult Protective Services. WITNESS' Kelly Matheson attended the briefing and said that the speakers emphasized the urgency of elder abuse, noting how it disproportionately affects elders living in poverty and older women in the U.S. So far, only 33 representatives have co-sponsored the bill and your urgent support is needed to urge Congress to act now - contact your representatives and ask them to support the Elder Justice Act today.


Elder Abuse " for Fun and Profit "

My wife and I became concerned about her father (89 y/o with diabetes, prior stroke, poor balance, frequent falls, renal insufficiency, depression ....) last year when his sensory deprivation (severe hearing loss, cataracts) was leading to increased dementia symptoms. He was scheduled to receive hearing aids but his appointments kept getting cancelled. He was on multiple occasions scheduled for cataract surgery, but his son cancelled the appointments every time. Medication errors led to life threatening complications, and again his son hampered intervention. We discovered that while his son was obstructing medical treatment he had brought an appraiser into his fathers home to catalog assets and had calculated his dad's worth at $1.5 million. A family court petition was filed in October 2008 seeking medical guardianship to protect her dad. While pending a Court hearing her father was found near death on the floor of his home having laid there unable to move or call out for help for 48-72 hours. He was bruised, severely dehydrated, and suffering from rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle trauma). The asset controlling son had concealed this obvious abuse/neglect, and continues to block access to his medical records.
Even though a Court hearing was pending alleging abuse/neglect when this obvious abuse/neglect occured; calls to the local police and Pennsylvania State Police were met with "we don't want to get involved in a family dispute".
The potential for unmitigated greed to influence unscrupulous parties to nudge those in their care towards an "assisted" death is the exact reason why formal legislation is needed.
Common sense dictates that the person who decides who "pulls the plug" shouldn't benefit from pulling the plug. Unfortunately, far to many of "the greatest generation" have a blind trust in family, and are subject to the abuse/neglect evident here where by a parent can be abused or neglected for "fun and profit"--Legislative help is needed to protect these victims from theirquasi-"loved ones".