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March 21, 2011

Mickey Rooney Speaks Out On Elder Abuse (USA)

By Richard Griffin/Columnist
Mar 20, 2011


During my early adolescence, my favorite movie actor was Mickey Rooney. In between the years 1938 and 1944 he made an amazing 13 Andy Hardy films. These movies thrilled me; each time I could hardly wait for the next one to appear.
My friends and I saw these movies at the old Paramount Theater in Newton Corner, identifying with Mickey as we watched him deal with the social adventures of teenagers, not entirely different from our own.

 He did well with other films, too. His versatility as an actor, singer and dancer made him one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars. The Andy Hardy movies were only some of the more than 200 films he made in his long career.
At age 91, Rooney is one of the rare actors still living who played leading roles in the films I saw as a boy.

 My reason for calling attention to Mickey Rooney is his appearance this month before a congressional committee in Washington, D.C. It would have been heartwarming to report he came there to receive a medal in honor of his film achievements. Instead, he presented himself for a much more sober reason.
The testimony he gave to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging had nothing to do with the satisfactions of living to be old, but rather with one of its hazards. He told the legislators about how he had been robbed of his savings.
“I was unable to avoid becoming a victim of elder abuse,” he said.
The worst part of it was the identity of the person who stole his money. It was not a stranger but rather a close family member. In falling prey to a relative — in his instance a 52-year-old stepson — Rooney is typical of a disturbingly large number of older people. 

Rooney described the emotional impact of the theft. “You feel scared and disappointed,” he said, “and can’t believe it’s happening to you. You feel overwhelmed. You’re afraid about criticism from your family and friends.”

This famous man went on to label what happened to him as “emotional blackmail.”
In gripping testimony, he added: “It came out of nowhere. It started with something small but it was rather sinister. For years I suffered silently. I was told to shut up and be quiet; you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He finished with this counsel to his age peers: “You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You deserve better. You deserve the right to control your life. To end the cycle of abuse, do not allow yourself to be silenced. Tell your story. Above all, have hope and faith.”

Thanks to YouTube, I have watched Mickey Rooney presenting his case. His poise and his confident speaking impressed me. He knew what he was talking about.
Financial exploitation of elders takes place much more frequently than most Americans realize. Older people frequently prove vulnerable to the unscrupulous who see in them targets for easy money.




Abridged
SOURCE:      The Daily News Transcript
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