ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS: SPEAKING UP FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T

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Abuse is a troubling issue in our society. One of the most overlooked forms? Elder abuse.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

According to the National Council on Aging, about one in 10 Americans older than 60 have experienced some type of elder abuse.

One of the most common forms of elder abuse has to do with money, said Long Term Care Ombudsman Dana Rester with the WARC Area Agency on Aging.

“It would be a real red flag if a victim were to look at their bank account, or if the bank were to look at the account and find that the balance is is declining,” she said.

Another often overlooked form of abuse is isolation.

“When this new caregivers moves in, you wouldn’t see them in church as often,” she said.

One person who lived through this with her father is Kerri Kasem, daughter of famous DJ Casey Kasem.

Kasem said she and her siblings were shielded from their dying father by their stepmother.

“Four years ago this month, we were told by my father’s wife, ‘You’re never gonna see your dad again,’ ” she said.

Even though Kasem said she had video evidence of her father giving them power of attorney over his health and saying he wanted to see his children, she learned there was no law in California to allow a judge to rule on children’s visitation.

“Even though my dad told his court-appointed lawyer and his court-appointed doctor, ‘I want to see my children and I want my children making medical decisions on my behalf,’ because there was no law allowing the judge to make a visitation ruling, we had to go through an entire fight over guardianship, an entire fight over power of attorneys,” she said.

Kasem said she persuaded California to pass a bill to deal situations such as hers. Thanks to her actions, she’s heard from people all over the country in similar situations.

“I decided my life mission was to change every single law in all 50 states,” she said.

With Kasem’s help, elder abuse laws are now active in several states.

Kasem said her father’s death showed her that speaking up for others in similar situations is what she was meant to do.

The Area Agency on Aging of West Alabama is hosting an event on learning to detect, prevent and report elder abuse from 10 a.m. to noon June 27 at the McAbee Center in Tuscaloosa (3801 Loop Road).

Speakers include representatives from local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Human Resources and a local private attorney, and topics include elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Lunch is being provided for anyone 60 or older in attendance.

 

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