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March 3, 2011

Mickey Rooney Tells Senate Panel He was a Victim of Elder Abuse (USA)


Mickey Rooney tells Senate panel he was a victim of elder abuse
By Tom Cohen, CNN
March 2, 2011

Washington (CNN)

Grimacing with emotion, entertainment legend Mickey Rooney implored a Senate committee on Wednesday to stop what experts call chronic emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse of elderly Americans by family members and other caregivers.
The 90-year-old Rooney told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that he was abused by a family member who took control of his life, and described feeling "scared, disappointed, yes, and angry."
"You can't believe that it's happening to you," Rooney said. "You feel overwhelmed."
Rooney has filed a restraining order against his stepson and stepdaughter, claiming both emotional and financial abuse.
The committee's hearing brought attention to what experts call chronic elder abuse in America. Rooney said Congress should pass a law to make it a specific crime.
"I'm asking you to stop this elderly abuse. I mean to stop it. Now. Not tomorrow, not next month, but now," he shouted from the witness table. Pass legislation and send it to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, he urged, so that the nation can say "it's a crime and we will not allow it in the United States of America."
Following the hearing, committee Chairman Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, introduced legislation that would create an Office of Elder Justice within the Department of Justice to help coordinate law enforcement response to elder abuse.
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, more than 14% of noninstitutionalized older adults experienced some form of elder abuse in 2009. The report cautions that number may be lower than the reality because many instances of elder abuse are underreported.
"For years I suffered silently. I didn't want to tell anybody. I couldn't muster the courage and you have to have courage," Rooney said Wednesday. "I needed help and I knew I needed it. Even when I tried to speak up, I was told to shut up and be quiet."
The GAO report found that many Adult Protective Service programs at the state level have growing case loads and dwindling resources. The elder population of the United States is expected to grow by 60% over the next 25 years.
Other witnesses detailed the depth of the problem.



Abridged
SOURCE:      CNN
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