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Actor Mickey Rooney Testifies Before Aging Committee on Elder Abuse He Has Endured

Called on committee of senators to stop the abuse ‘Now;’ urges support of bills being introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl, committee chair: watch video of testimony

Actor Mickey Rooney, 90, tells Senate Aging Committee of Elder Abuse he endured. (Click to watch video)

March 2, 2011 – Legendary movie actor Mickey Rooney, now 90, gave riveting testimony before the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging today as he described the elder abuse that has happened to him. The World War II veteran said he was “stripped of the ability to make even the most basic decisions.”

Senator Herb Kohl, committee chair, called the hearing to explore the nationwide trends of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of seniors with leading experts from across the country.

Rooney testified to the emotional and financial abuse that he has struggled through in recent years to a packed hearing room. (Link to video of testimony below news report.)

“I was financially exploited and denied access to information of any kind as to how my finances were managed…” Rooney said.

“I persisted in sharing with others the abuse I have suffered, and am now taking steps to right all the wrongs that were committed against me.”

 

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Kohl opened the hearing noting, “the physical, mental and financial abuse of our nation’s seniors is all too common.”

In 2009 in Kohl’s home state of Wisconsin, over 5,000 cases of suspected abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation were reported – an almost 9 percent increase over 2008.

“These crimes are being committed by people because their victims are often fragile and their chance of getting caught is slim,” Kohl said.

Kay Brown, Director of the Government Accountability Office’s Education, Workforce and Income Security program, presented a GAO report released at the hearing, detailing the existing estimates of elder abuse cases finally being reported to authorities.

“A 2009 study estimated that 14.1 percent of non-institutionalized older adults nationwide had experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year,” Brown said. “In all likelihood, this underestimated the full extent of elder abuse, however, because older adults who are highly cognitively impaired may be underrepresented in this study.”

Mark Lachs, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Weill Medical College, unveiled a statewide study of elder abuse in New York recently completed by a collaborative team from Cornell University, the New York City Department for the Aging, and Lifespan of Greater Rochester. 

“Based on our research it would appear that for every elder abuse victim that makes it into an official service or reporting system, another 23 to 24 go undetected,” Lachs said.

Kohl urged Committee members in attendance to help pass legislation to improve federal, state and local agency cooperation in fighting elder abuse.

He noted that later that day he would reintroduce his “Elder Abuse Victims Act,” a measure that is strongly endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition.  The bill establishes an Office of Elder Justice within the Department of Justice and strengthens the coordinated law enforcement response to cases of elder abuse. Kohl will also introduce the “End Abuse in Later Life Act of 2011,” which addresses domestic abuse in later life and is designed to be included as part of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization later this year.

Click on Panel Names to Read Testimony

Mickey Rooney, Actor, entertainment legend, elder abuse victim and advocate, Los Angeles, CA
Kay Brown, Director, Education, Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC
GAO Report, Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse
Kathleen Quinn, Executive Director, National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), Springfield, IL
Mark Lachs, Director, of Geriatrics, New York Presbyterian Health System, Co-Chief, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY
Bonnie Brandl, Director, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) a project of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Superior, CO
Marie-Therese Connolly, Director, Life Long Justice (LLJ) (an initiative of Appleseed), and Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

Statement of Committee Chair

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman

>> Click Here to Watch Video of Hearing

 

 

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