U.S. Government Unveils New Resources to Fight Elder Abuse
Palo Alto, CA (Law Firm Newswire) August 22, 2014 – The federal government has introduced a major new initiative to combat rising abuse and exploitation of the elderly — the “Elder Justice Roadmap,” a comprehensive framework for neutralizing financial, psychological and physical risks to older Americans.
The Roadmap outlines newly launched educational programs and policy steps designed to increase reporting and prosecution, but it mainly focuses on encouraging individuals, families and institutions to identify risks and take steps toward prevention.
Elder law attorney Michael Gilfix recently authored an article entitled “Addressing Financial Elder Abuse: Should the Bar be Lower?” that will appear in the September issue of Trusts & Estates Magazine. He agrees that planning and prevention are the best defenses against elder abuse.
“Decreased cognitive ability and financial strain are two major risk factors for elder abuse,” Gilfix said. “The facts of this report confirm that every family should consider concrete safeguards long before a serious threat or scam appears.”
The Roadmap’s publication followed President Barack Obama’s vow to eliminate the victimization of older Americans. On June 11, President Obama proclaimed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, stating that the government must improve the criminal justice response and work harder to ensure all Americans have the “right to enjoy their retirement years with a basic sense of security.”
The map attempts to simplify a complex set of decisions that magnify in importance over time. Families can plot their place on the Roadmap to find missed, current and upcoming actions to take. “Durable power of attorney, asset protection and long-term care insurance planning make excellent starting points for many families,” Gilfix added.
According to an article by Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, the Elder Justice Roadmap is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that began in 2012.
The Department of Health and Human Services encourages anyone who suspects elder abuse to report it immediately by calling the National Center for Elder Abuse at 1-800-677-1116.