Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lobster Rescued; Elders Abused Exploited, Kidnapped & Murdered

by Irene A. Masiello

George, the lobster, age 140, was rescued from a lobster tank in an upscale NYC restaurant on Jan. 10, 2009 by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported the Associated Press. Acting on a tip, incredibly, PETA was able to save this crustacean from being executed to pamper a palette.

For the last 7 years, after the death of my father via elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, I have been an advocate for awareness about elder abuse and its many hideous “faces.” I am stymied by the lack of concern, compassion and action in combating this terrible social ill that’s costing countless lives.

Though I am an animal lover myself, I was awed by the outrage of Americans at NFL’s Michael Vick for arranging and betting on dog fighting and people rushing to save a lobster when one-in-six seniors or more will be victims of some form of elder abuse.

Other social causes have made real progress. PETA can rescue a lobster and return it to the safety of the waters offshore Maine. MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers) has changed the laws of the land regarding drinking and driving. John Walsh, while courageous bearing the horrific pain of losing his little boy, took action and succeeded in revamping our laws regarding exploited and missing kids.

Yet, families of murdered, exploited and abused seniors who have suffered tragic losses have failed to awaken the consciousness of this country. While the elderly cannot picket, march in Washington, D.C., boycott or hold a rally, might we, the families of the victims, myself included, be dropping “the ball?”

Since my book, Paradise Costs—A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back against Elder Abuse, was released, I have heard from many. I have learned that everyone sees elder abuse from their own map of the world with many claiming to be victims.

Before elder abuse literally struck home, I was a transformational and holistic counselor. Through that work, I have come to recognize there are few problems but rather challenges to creativity. Therefore, from a personal perspective, I will not embrace the world of victimhood. My father was the victim and he “died” as a result of a not so mysterious sequence of events that are documented in my book which contains my dad’s forensic report.

Many of those who write and, rightfully so, are angry however I believe mustering cou-RAGE, channeling it into action and championing this cause using in-SPIRIT-ion. To me, information is power and, therefore, I seek to em-POWER.

Whether our loved ones have been victimized by guardianship or conservatorship abuse, actual physical abuse, exploitation, neglect, medical, pharmaceutical or legal malfeasance, the result is the same—a beloved person has been deprived of their right to life.

Let’s think bigger picture. Let’s redefine elder abuse in its broadest sense and turn to Amnesty International: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the foundation of the international system of protection for human rights. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th, 1948.

“Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.
“Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty…economic rights including the right… the right to food…Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.”
With the above in mind, it seems clear, elder abuse, in whatever form it takes is, obviously, a violation of human rights. In my opinion, so long as we are separatists in approach and calling elder abuse by one of its many names, we take away from our underlying social mantra and our aspiration to STOP ALL ELDER ABUSE NOW.

Might it would serve everyone’s best interest, especially our seniors, if we borrow a phrase from Ben Franklin, “Let’s all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately?”

So long as a single senior citizen anywhere in this nation does not evoke the action taken by PETA to protect the life of George the lobster, no person in this country is safe. So long as we stand apart, we will never do what MADD has done.

It is in keeping with the spirit of oneness, I want to invite everyone to turn your cou-RAGE into action.
We must put our experience and anger to work, we need to re-define the litany of horrific abuses against our family members as violation of human rights and re-introduce the words, “ELDER ABUSE,” as an umbrella phrase covering:

*elder abuse
*elder exploitation
*elder neglect
*guardianship abuse
*conservatorship abuse
*undue influence (mentally, emotionally, physically by anyone, e.g.: family, lawyers, probate courts, social services, etc.)
*medical, pharmacological and legal malfeasance
breech of fiduciary duty
*any of the above that shortens life and wellness
*any of the above where cognitive ability is impaired or there is diminishing capacity (visual, mobility, hearing, nutritional infirmities, mental infirmities, intellectual impairment, sensory or social deprivation, etc)
*in cases were elders sign documents they are unable to understand and/or EXPLAIN the ramifications of
*power of attorney exploitation
*any action or inaction by any person including family members and professionals that impacts longevity when the elder has specified their wish to live as long as possible.

(please e-mail me if you have additional suggestions for the above list at

I am requesting, starting immediately, that volunteers unite with a common plea. Let’s stop elder abuse in all forms. Let’s get organized, let’s spread the word that none of us will tolerate members of our families being denied their human rights.

Remember: President Obama has asked this nation to serve in some capacity and, perhaps, our path to service has been defined by what we have experienced. And while speaking about our president, lets remember what Rosa Parks did in Alabama when she stood her ground and took her rightful place on a bus. Let's let the Civil Rights movement, MADD, PETA, ACT-UP, John Walsh and others be a template and inspiration to us.

Please, those who have Internet skills, watch TV, listen to the radio or simply cruise the net start data collection on any of the above. At least one volunteer from each U.S. state is needed to serve as “state captain” and another to serve as “state lieutenant.” Perhaps, military phrases may be seen offensive, however, you bet this is a war…let’s remember the casualties; let’s not let our losses be in vain.

For us, who are still standing, we aren’t victims YET. However, remember the statistics. Think about the faltering economy. The vulnerable elderly will be at the greatest risk to deviants and predators. And too many of us we will be, as well, when the expected 15 million victims plus of “elder abuse” manifests in the baby-boomer generation.

Choice time:

Are you part of the problem?

Okay, just keep calling your self a victim and lamenting. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Are you part of the solution?

If PETA can act on a tip and save a 140-year old lobster in NYC…what can we do together to save our beloved elders and ourselves?

Please contact me at for more details (or to add to the above list regarding redefining elder abuse) about an effort to organize, collect data, spread knowledge and em-POWER ourselves and STOP ALL ELDER ABUSE NOW.

Irene A. Masiello is a certified: CORE/transformational & holistic counselor, stress management consultant and adult educator. She is author of PARADISE COSTS—A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse, afterword by Rabbi Bennett Blum, MD. Dr. Blum and Ms. Masiello are Members of the Elder Justice Coalition. Lists of red flags of abuse, exploitation and neglect as well as high risk seniors are available for your publication. ©Copyright, January 2009, Irene A. Masiello-all rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint the above article, however, do not separate the tag lines or copy right from the article.

Thank you.
Irene A. Masiello Author: Paradise Costs
A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse
Afterword by: Bennett Blum, M.D.
Contact: 718.776.5644

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your father. I cannot see us tolerating elder abuse under any circumstances. But I know that it goes on, unfortunately. Keep up the good work spreading the news.