Mickey Rooney Raises Awareness of Elder Abuse

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 09 March 2011

Honorary Oscar award winner and four-time nominee. Film, television, and musical actor. Father, husband, family man. Elder abuse victim.

Mickey Rooney is making the news these days, and it’s certainly been good for elder abuse awareness, albeit heartbreaking to hear.

Elder abuse happens, and as the 90-year-old star shared in his appropriately ardent testimony to a special Senate committee, it comes in various forms (i.e. financial, physical, emotional, mental). Rooney states that he has primarily experienced financial abuse at the hands of a family member, saying:

“I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated.”

Elder abuse does not discriminate; it happens to famous people and to those who aren’t in the public eye. No matter where, how, or to whom it happens, elder abuse is rampant, and Rooney is valiantly bringing this crucial issue to light.

The statistics are grim, though difficult to pinpoint, given that many cases go unreported, definitions of abuse vary, and the data is not officially, successfully, or consistently collected on a regular basis. The National Center on Elder Abuse (part of the Administration on Aging) estimates that 1-2 million older adults (65+) have been abused, but this data comes from a report published in 2005. The Elder Abuse Daily reports that nearly 6 million have been injured or exploited.

Honestly, whether it is 6 million people, 2 million people, or just 2 people, it’s one too many.

Elders are “particularly vulnerable because they are ‘often fragile’ and their abusers usually stand little chance of getting caught,” as per Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, in this article from MSNBC.

Sadly, in many cases, a family member or close friend is the perpetrator of the abuse, which really makes this such a difficult thing to report and resolve, yet nonetheless vitally important to address.

I hope that the momentum Mickey Rooney has generated will continue to build so that this issue will finally get the attention it deserves. I also hope that the attention/awareness will be transformed into action, and that elder care advocates everywhere will do their part to prevent, report, and stop elder abuse in their corner of the world.

Next step: What can you do to curb elder abuse in your family/community? What ideas can you share for others to implement?

Photo: Alex Brandon, The Associated Press

-Michelle Seitzer


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