So many important issues this week, I could post five times one rights after another...but let me start with this.
Child Star Mickey Rooney Testifies Before Congress As Victim of Elder Abuse
March 2, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. At a hearing held today the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging focused on the issue of abuse of the elderly in America. The hearing, called "Justice for All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation," was held on Capitol Hill.
Several members of the Select Committee from New England spoke at the hearing. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said that "combatting elder abuse should be a national priority. It is no longer justt a family responsibiltiiy."
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called elder abuse a "hidden scourge in our society." "All too often," Blumenthal said, "it is hidden and denied. It is upreported because people are embarassed and ashamed. But these are crimes, and they should be reported. It is unacceptable inour society that we allow so many elders to be victims in our society."
The Committee's lead off witness was child film star Mickey Rooney, 91, who told the committe: "Unfortunately, I'm testifying not just as a concerend citizen, but as a victim of elder abuse. Rooney told the Senate Committee he was financially exploited, that his resources were "stolen from me by someone close, a family member... I was unable to avoid becoming a victim of elder abuse. You feel scared and disappointed, and can't believe it's happening to you. You feel overwhelmed. You're afraid about criticism from your family and friends."
Rooney said he suffered "emotional blackmail" as part of his abuse. He said he was told that his financial matters "were none of his business." "It came out of nowhere," Rooney said. "It started with something small, but it was rather sinister. For years I suffered silently. I was told to shut up and be quiet: you don't know what you're talking about."
"It's important for me to tell my story," Rooney explained, "especially to those seniors who suffer in silence."
"You are not alone," Rooney said, addressing seniors directly, "and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You deserve better. You deserve the right to control your life. To end the cycle of abuse, not to allow yourself to be silenced. Tell your story. Above all, have hope and faith."
"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone," Rooney concluded. "Stop this abuse of elders now. Say its a crime, and we will not allow it in the United States."
Rooney urged the committee to pass legislation sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin , the "Elder Abuse Victims Act."
Massachusetts has had an elder abuse reporting law for 27 years, but national studies show that for every one case of abuse reported, another 24 go unreported. Every day in Massachusetts, another 54 reports of elder abuse are filed. The problem of elder abuse was called "a silent pandemic" at a Beacon Hill hearing on February 16th. Elder advocates say funding for protective services was cut back to 2008 levels. The Commonwealth spends 31 times more on child abuse and domestic violence services than on services to alleviate violence against seniors.
FOR MORE BACKGROUND: AL NORMAN, MASS HOME CARE 978-502-3794 CELL.