Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Young Elder's Advocate Conducts an Interview with Editor of ElderAbuseHelp.Org

Ms. An Doan is E.A.'s most recent Elder Advocate that is interested in Elder Abuse and the numerous resources available through this site.

Ms. Doan asked to interview the editor of E.A. regarding one of the largest social epidemics of our century that's has spun out of control.

With no one to watch over the people that are supposed to protect our Elders, even 'Guardianship of a Ward' has turned into an orgy of frivolous billing and rubber stamping by the courts. So when the Elder Abuse ends with the perpetrators, it then begins with the courts.

E.A. wanted to know how Ms. Doan came upon ElderAbuseHelp.Org and what had prompted her to ask the editor of E.A. for an interview?

Well, the answer to that question is in the words of Ms. An Doans herself;

"The reason on how I found you to interview is from an answer that I got from Yahoo! Answers when I was asking who may I interview regarding elderly abuse Tabitha Grace Smith from Agis.Com and Agis FamilyCare Groups said I could go and ask Ray, Editor of ElderAbuseHelp.Org .

I'm currently 17 and doing a Senior Quest which is a required long research paper for seniors at El Monte High in order for graduation.

The reason why I'm interested in the topic Elderly Abuse is due to a presentation that I saw from last year from a fellow classmate about elderly abuse. And guess what? That was the first time I ever heard about elderly abuse, and knowing that, I'm sure that not many people know about it too.

It also makes me wonder how come so little people know about it. So I did some studies and found out that not all abusers were convicted and due to lack of evidence, they eventually get away with it.

What breaks my heart is that majority of those abusers are the victim's children. Furthermore, I want to find out what laws there are fighting against elderly abuse. I also volunteer at a retirement home and talk to some staff there, I found out majority of the seniors living there were abused before by their own children. "

Editor - Ms. Doan, we were a little bit surprised that at your age you want to become involved in fighting Elder Abuse, can you tell us what motivates you and what it is you hope to accomplish?

Ms. Doan - As for my family, my parents have always taught me to respect the elders. Though my family grew up in poverty and often struggle with financial problems, my parents had never complain about having to take care of my grandparents. After finding out about all these elderly abuse stories and facts, I'm exposed to a whole new side of life and the world. As a teenager, I know many other teenagers are rebellious and tends to ignore their parents so I want to tell more people about abuses so it'll be less likely to occur once they get older. I mean, our parents gave us life and took the time and love to raise us, we don't abuse them in return.

Editor - Okay, then thank you Ms. Doan, and since this is your interview, feel free to ask the questions that you have prepared for me.

Ms. Doan - Ok, thank you. What is your occupation and where do you work at?

Editor - I am a licenced Real Estate Broker and General Contractor, as well as the Editor of Elderabusehelp.org.

Ms.Doan - What encouraged you to create the elder abuse website?

Editor - I got involved with elder-care when my father ha a stroke in 1999 and my parents asked me to come home and take care of them. They wanted me to take over the responsibility of running the estate that they had built up for our family. After taking care of my parents and their financial affairs for 5 years, my mother was abducted and that was the beginning of what I would understand today as Elder Abuse.
To say that necessity is the mother of invention, after my parents were abused, either intentionally or through the 'Law of un intended consequences' the story of what was reported by the perpetrators was so alien to what really happened that I felt almost an obligation to collect evidence and to tell the truth about how the abuse came about and to warn others so that they would not be susceptible to the same abuse that destroyed our family.

Ms. Doan - What are some of the types of elder abuse that you encounter?

Editor - According to the types of elder maltreatment substantiated by APS neglect accounts for 48.7%, emotional/psychological abuse 35.4%, Financial /Material exploitation 30.2 % , physical abuse accounts for 25.6% and those categories is where the majority of elder abuse falls in.

Keep in mind that for every case of Elder Abuse that is reported there are 5 that you don't hear about, Elder Abuse is one of the most non reported crimes there is, and because a crime of elder abuse is not substantiated, does not mean it did not take place, only that the level of proof required by the state was not sufficiently met.

Ms. Doan - How often does elder abuse occur and mostly where?

Editor - Nursing homes have a dismal record when it comes to providing quality care for our elderly loved ones. For example, almost a third of the nursing homes in the United States were cited for abuse violations during a two–year period (Special Investigations Division, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives)

Often, the elder abuse violations caused actual harm to residents or placed them in immediate threat of death or serious injury. Unfortunately, the elderly do not necessarily fare better in domestic settings.

According to APS reports the largest category of substantiated elder abuse incidents was the adult children of the victims 47.3% . These are sad statistics, unworthy of a society that claims to honor its elders.

They are also only conservative estimates. For every reported incident of Domestic Elder Abuse or neglect, approximately five go unreported, according to the Administration on Aging.
Physical, emotional, simple neglect and abuse of the elderly happens every day.

Ms. Doan - How severe can the abuse get and in what ways are the elder being abused?

Editor - Elder Abuse can come in many ways, while the fastest growing type of abuse is Elder Financial Abuse which doesn't leave bruises and is treated as a civil matter by many law enforcement agencies, it is devastating, many elders do not transplant well, having to lose your home after 30 or 40 years because of being victim to exploitation is devastating and often leads to incapacitation or an early death or both.

According to Burgess, A., and N. Hanrahan; Identifying Forensic Markers in Elder Sexual Abuse, final report submitted to the National Institute of Justice, Washington, D.C. - 2006 .

Because older victims usually have fewer support systems and reserves—physical, psychological, and economic—the impact of abuse and neglect is magnified, and a single incident of mistreatment is more likely to trigger a downward spiral leading to loss of independence, a serious complicating illness, and even death.

Ms. Doan - Do the abusers often get the right punishment from the law that they deserve or there often not enough evidence?

Editor - The problem we are seeing is not lack of the evidence, on the contrary, there is an over abundance of it. Elder Financial Abuse has been called the Crime of the 21st Century , evidence of elder abuse is everywhere, rarely a day goes by where you don't hear of an incident of Elder Abuse. Sentences of Elder Abuse are often suspended , there seems to be an entire industry built up around Elder Financial Abuse, the elderly are often flush with savings and other assets, such as real estate and investments making them the grease that oils the probate courts, scam artists, and opportunists.

There also seems to be not very many consequences for the criminals, who are stealing old people blind.

Ms. Doan - What actions are the government taken to reinforce laws on elder abuse?

Editor - Presently there is the Elder Justice Act that has been languishing in Congress more recently congressmen U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and State Rep. Marc Corriveau and others are pushing to get this act out of moth balls and into law, this would be a shot in the arm for elder protective agencies and law enforcement agencies everywhere.

Ms. Doan - Would the number of elder abuse decreases if we have federal laws against elder abuse?

Editor - Yes, if Elder Abuse was criminalized and mandatory sentences imposed then criminals would be kept off the streets and would think twice about abusing an elder.
But, "There's certainly a higher penalty for possessing a rock of cocaine in this Nation than for beating up on elderly, bedridden grandparents," Deputy Prosecutor Page Ulrey said.

Homeward Bound and its affiliates have been fined $249,000 for Consumer Protection Law violations. This amount will not be collected, take the example of Albert Bouchard, 47, of Limestone, who pleaded guilty to theft, was sentenced Friday in Aroostook County Superior Court to two years in prison, with all but 30 days suspended.

In contrast actor Tommy Chong gets nine months jail sentence for selling glass pipes that might be used for smoking marijuana.

We have federal laws to protect animals but no federal law against elder injustice, just "Information Centers".
It's time our elected officials got serious about protecting our elders. As you can see there is a favorable treatment for perpetrators of elder abuse that is disproportionate in relations to other crimes that needs to be addressed.

Most importantly, The National Elder Justice Act would mandate federal funds to bolster Adult Protective Service Agencies around the country. Right now it has been said that for every government dollar spent on child protective services training, only 4 cents is allotted for adult protective services programs. A guaranteed flow of federal funds would enable APS to hire much-needed caseworkers and investigators.

Ms.Doan - What makes an older person vulnerable to elder abuse?

Editor - Older people tend to trust more easily, also many suffer from the onset of Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and the fragility of old age. The elderly are not able to defend themselves and are naive, they would never believe that a family member would bring them harm or that there are cold hearted ruthless predators looking to befriend them, is only looking to take their money.
Ms. Doan - My final question, "What excuses does the abusers uses to abuse the elders?" And thank you for this interview!

Editor - Well physical abuse falls under the category of crimes of passion, a caregiver loses patience by being stressed out or a family member feels he was treated unfairly during his childhood and there is his/her chance to even the score,.... this can also be the fruit of the perception of having being abused as a child and this is an opportunity to get justice, but by far, the most rapidly growing type of abuse is elder financial abuse.

Elder Financial Abuse takes a lot more planning and execution and falls under the category of :

• Need or greed. - The abuser is under financial pressure.
• Opportunity. - The abuser has access to funds or property.
• False sense of entitlement—“I deserve it. I am owed.”

*Reference:National Elder Abuse Incidence Study prepared for the administration of Children and Families

Ms. Doan, let me say in closing, "Thank you, Please tell your school principal Mr. Joel Kyne , and I am going to go out on a limb here, and speak for all Americans, Ms. An Doans; "We are proud of you!"

If you and others like you are the future of our great Nation, then we have much to hope and look forward to, God Bless!

To all those that wish to thank Ms. An Doan for this great interview in which she asks all of the hard questions,.. and for her time as a volunteer to nursing homes, please feel free to contact her!

You can >> E mail her here <<


Anonymous said...

Hey did An find out about you on Yahoo Answers? I think I pointed her your way!


Ray said...

thank you Tabitha, it is people like An Doan that keeps us going and gives us hope!

Anonymous said...

The current Elder Justice act does nothing but, to allow more of the same. The nursing home industry gutted the bill. More abuses, robberies, and killings happen in nursing homes than are reported. Bee Becker who helped get the bill written, would not support the bill after the special interests gutted it and made it serve them.

Anonymous said...

The racketeering which goes on in this area of the courts is nothing short of reprehensible. These judges, attorneys, ct-appt guardians, are in a clear cut act of collusion which would probably qualify for RICO act prosecution.