An editorial in this week’s Huffington Post from the National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, offered a general summary of the sad state of affairs when it comes to elder abuse identification and prevention. Despite the encouraging signs that more focus is slowly being directed at the plight of so many vulnerable seniors, the fact remains that elders suffer every day without anyone doing anything about it. Certain aspects of the problem have reached epidemic proportions. For example, during the holiday season it is estimated that one in ten seniors fell victim to some form of elder financial abuse. Collectively, this amounts to a loss of more than $3 billion each and every year. In some of the most extreme cases, seniors lose savings that they had built up over a lifetime.
Last year Congress held hearings on the plight of many of these seniors, highlighting the scope of the problem and its various forms. In the past the body has actually worked to enact legislation to tackle the problem—the Elder Justice Act. However, as the editorial points out, for the second year in a row Congress passed a spending bill while failing to fun this piece of legislation—the only federal elder abuse prevention act on the books. The President had asked Congress to authorize $21.5 million in startup funds to get the prevention project off the ground. However, Congress ignored this request and so the measure will remain stalled yet again.
It remains disappointing that so little is being done on a federal level to actually prevent this abuse before it occurs so that victims are spared. Instead, elder abuse lawyers are forced to spearhead the accountability project by seeking to hold wrongdoers accountable after the fact. Ideally steps would be enacted to help stop the problems from arising in the first place.
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Editorial Lambasts Washington for Ignoring Elder Abuse