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Special Elder Abuse Prosecutor Proposed in Oregon

Elder-financial-exploitation-abuseOlder Oregonians who are vulnerable to financial and physical abuse would have a new ally if the Legislature agrees to finance a new state prosecutor who would focus on assisting county district attorneys with prosecuting elder abuse cases. The elder abuse resource prosecutor would be in the Oregon Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Division. The person named to the proposed position would be the third full-time resource prosecutor in the state, alongside those for domestic violence and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

A recent article in The Oregonian, titled State prosecutor for elder abuse is proposed for Oregon,says that in recent years the number of suspected and confirmed cases of elder abuse has been steadily increasing in that state. In fact, in 2013, the Oregon Adult Protective Services received 28,449 reports of potential abuse involving older adults and people with physical disabilities.

Funding for the new full-time position is being requested as part of the Oregon Department of Justice's appropriations bill, which is moving through committees.

The director of consumer education and outreach for the Department of Justice said in the article that "[t]here's a gap there and we want to fill that with the prosecutor and the two investigators."

Likewise, a former county elder abuse prosecutor in Georgia told The Oregonian that it makes sense to create a position at the state level if a state has a significant rural population. "Then you've got the resources that could reach out to a small rural area that would never ever be able to afford a specialty prosecutor," the former prosecutor said.

The article explains that victims of elder abuse are two times as likely to die within a year of the abuse being reported than those elders who haven’t been the victim of abuse, citing research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the more than 28,000 complaints of potential abuse in Oregon in 2013, the state deemed 14,250 worthy of investigation. It confirmed 5,024 victims of abuse, wrongdoing, or self-neglect. The number of abuse complaints has been increasing as Oregon's senior population grows, according to the report. Growing awareness of the issue of elder abuse also is a factor.

The senior population is growing in many other states as well. Talk with a qualified elder law attorney if you have questions or want to take action to protect a loved one.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: The Oregonian (April 3, 2015) State prosecutor for elder abuse is proposed for Oregon

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Los Angeles to Focus on Crimes against the Elderly / York, PA

MP900202201Calling elder abuse one of the most under-reported crimes in the city, Los Angeles officials announced plans to expand its efforts to protect senior citizens with some help from the Department of Justice and Verizon Corp. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer said the awarding of $1.6 million in grants to the city will help fund efforts to train police officers in recognizing the signs of elder abuse, which often involves family members and can be somewhat of a hidden crime.

“Our office is in the forefront of domestic violence,” the City Attorney commented to the Los Angeles Daily News, as reported in an article titled "L.A. gets $1.6 million to combat elder abuse."

 “Our office receives 11,000 cases of domestic violence each year, but last year, we received only 100 cases of elder abuse," the City Attorney noted.

He's certain there are more cases out there and that elder abuse is under-reported. Victims rely on caretakers, and because of that, are hesitant to come forward and make a report.

L.A. Mayor Garcetti said domestic abuse cases are increasing, even though other types of crime in Los Angeles are at historic lows. New programs will involve training for the private sector and nonprofits to assist law enforcement and to recognize symptoms that are sometimes hard to detect but that could indicate mistreatment of the city's seniors.

The mayor reminded readers that Los Angeles has "absolutely zero tolerance for domestic abuse, for sexual abuse, for elder abuse,” and that there is help for victims.

Los Angeles Assistant Police Chief Michel Moore was quoted in the original article as saying that a major issue with domestic violence is that it continues for generations and often brings about other criminal problems. Moore encouraged people to pay attention to the elderly, saying “If you see repeated signs of bruising or other problems, report it.” He added that friends and neighbors should watch for any increased isolation of an elderly person, which can be a sign of trouble.

This advice works the same in your community as it does in Los Angeles. If you have any concerns about the care of an elderly friend or loved one, speak with an elder law attorney. He or she can advise on the steps to take and work with you to make sure that your senior's interests are represented and they receive the care they need.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Los Angeles Daily News (October 15, 2014) "L.A. gets $1.6 million to combat elder abuse"

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The Federal Government Releases the Elder Justice Roadmap / York, PA

MP900309139The 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.

Elder abuse impacts about five million Americans each year. This crime, which can include physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation, will result in thousands of cases of illness, injury and suffering for these elderly victims, their loved ones and their caregivers. It is tragic that so few cases are reported to the authorities. According to some statistics, only about one in 24 is reported. With baby boomers retiring and this widespread impact of elder abuse, the Elder Justice Roadmap Project was initiated to collect the thoughts of experts and stakeholders from across the nation. Their aim was to develop a strategic resource to fight elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The project's report identifies and prioritizes actions that direct service providers, educators, and researchers can take to benefit older adults in this situation. And as its name implies, it provides a roadmap for strategic investment and engagement by policymakers in both the public and private sectors to advance these efforts to prevent and combat elder abuse.

The Elder Justice Roadmap Project’s publication came about after President Obama pledged to eliminate the victimization of older Americans. On June 11, he proclaimed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and declared 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.”

According to its Executive Summary, The Elder Justice Roadmap Project's top five priorities deemed vital to understanding and reducing elder abuse and to promoting health, independence, and justice for older adults are the following:

1. Awareness: Increasing public awareness of elder abuse, which requires a holistic, well-coordinated response in services, education, policy, and research.

2. Brain health: Conducting research and sharpening the focus on cognitive (in)capacity and mental health, which are critical factors both for victims and perpetrators.

3. Caregiving: Providing better support and training for the tens of millions of paid and unpaid caregivers who are vitally important in preventing elder abuse.

4. Economics: Quantifying the costs of elder abuse, often a huge fiscal cost to victims, families and society.

5. Resources: Strategically investing more resources in services, education, research, and expanding knowledge to reduce elder abuse.

The Elder Justice Roadmap Project strives to simplify a complex set of decisions that magnify in importance over time. Resources are available for families to plot their place on the Roadmap to find missed, current, and upcoming actions they should take. For more assistance, contact your elder law attorney. He or she will help you advocate for the health, care, and well-being of yourself or your loved one.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Elder Justice Roadmap Project Report, "Elder Justice Roadmap Project Executive Summary

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