Government Unveils Online Resource to Tackle Elder Abuse

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a new framework to tackle challenges to elder abuse prevention and prosecution. 

Supported by the DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Elder Justice Roadmap was developed with input from public and private stakeholders nationwide. 

“The Roadmap Project is an important milestone for elder justice,” says associate attorney general Tony West in a news release. “Elder abuse is a problem that has gone on too long, but the Roadmap Report can change this trajectory by offering comprehensive and concrete action items for all of the stakeholders dedicated to combating the multi-faceted dimensions of elder abuse and financial exploitation.”

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One in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced elder abuse or neglect, and people with dementia are at higher risk for abuse, says HHS.

The roadmap is an online curriculum designed to teach legal aid and other civil attorneys how to identify and respond to elder abuse.

The first three modules of the training cover what lawyers should know about elder abuse; practical and ethical strategies to use when facing challenges in this area; and a primer on domestic violence and sexual assault. The roadmap will expand to include six one-hour modules covering issues relevant to attorneys who may encounter elder abuse victims in the course of their practice. 

HHS also developed a voluntary national adult protective services (APS) data system that collects national data on adult mistreatment to identify and address gaps about the number and characteristics of adults who are the victims of maltreatment. 

According to the new online resource’s fact sheet, signs of elder abuse include neglect, financial abuse/esploitation, psychological/emotional abuse and physical/sexual abuse.

As a result of the Roadmap, the Archstone Foundation has funded a project at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California to develop a national training initiative, while other funders, such as the Weinberg Foundation, have begun to consider inquiries and projects outlined in the roadmap, HHS says.

In addition, the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College, The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and the New York City Elder Abuse Center will be co-sponsoring a symposium in September 2014 focusing on innovations and challenges related to elder abuse multidisciplinary teams, a priority area identified in the roadmap.  

The Elder Justice Roadmap can be accessed here

Online training for attorneys is also available here.  

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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  • Goodness, how do we keep this burgeoning list of regulatory and enforcement agencies straight? I thought the sole purpose of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was to consolidate the myriad bureaucracies into one centralized entity…..That clearly didn’t happen and now, on the “caring” side of the protection racket we have the Dept of Justice weighing in to “protect seniors”……What about all the other bureaucracies and “not for profits” dedicated to perpetuating their legitimacy in this arena? It is getting so complicated that I can’t keep track of it…but I just hope we can afford all of it and that our struggling little industry can endure it.

  • Mr. Tony West, may I suggest that the DOJ develop a model elder abuse policy for local law enforcement agencies. Take a look at your home town, San Jose CA. The SJPD elder abuse policy is one page and simply instructs the officer to use a CHILD Abuse protocol. This means that financial and mental abuse crimes won’t be investigated. There is no mention of Penal Code Section 368. San Jose Elder miss the extra protection the State legislators felt they deserved. Moving on to Riverside County Sheriff’s elder abuse policy that was last updated in 1987. That was 6-years prior to PC 368 being written so those elders don’t get the extra protection. Then look at Lexipol, LLC a vendor providing duty manuals for about 2/3 of CA law enforcement agencies. Lexipol’s Policy 326 on Elder Abuse typically only has one reference the the Penal Code and that is to section 836, which deals with domestic violence between cohabitants NOT elder abuse. This same policy typically has about 20 references to civil codes. The result is the patrol officer incorrectly is lead to believe elder abuse is a civil matter. That is what families report being told frequent. Tony, think back to your days running for city council. Until law enforcement manuals are updated to treat elder abuse as a criminal matter, nothing else will matter. Tony, if you haven’t figured out you I am, think city council and Alum Rock.

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