Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse

Re-release of Paradise Costs—A Victim’s Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse Marks International Elder Awareness Day; June 15, 2008

NEW YORK, NY: Bennett Blum, M.D., internationally acclaimed forensic and geriatric psychiatrist and an expert in undue influence, has added his pioneering work to that of author Irene A. Masiello in Paradise Costs-A Victim's Daughter Fights Back Against Elder Abuse, the heart-wrenching story of an infirm, 80-year-old man with Alzheimer's who was taken from his family, stripped of his assets and exploited despite the pleas of his next of kin.

Driven by grim statistics from national elder advocacy groups indicating there may be more than 25 million cases of elder exploitation in America, Dr. Blum and Ms. Masiello have joined forces to inform readers via a compelling true story while providing professional assessment guidelines that are used internationally.

Masiello supports her father's tragic story with his suspicious forensic report exemplifying a terrifying reality facing the elderly in America today. Mario Masiello, a hearing-impaired, honorably discharged, World War II veteran, retired from the NYC Transit Authority and relocated to the quaint town of Walterboro, SC. Twenty years later, his blissful life was ravaged by the death of his wife and by several illnesses including diabetes, Alzheimer's and depression. Paradise Costs tells the chilling true story of the last years of his life when he was "grandpa-napped" from his family by neighbors and "friends."

The American Psychological Association estimates that approximately 2.1 million senior citizens are victims of physical and psychological neglect and abuse every year. Many cases go unreported. Ms. Masiello's objective is to provide a voice to the millions of silent or ignored victims. "I never thought this type of betrayal and brutality could happen in my family," says his daughter. "My experience has made me realize how little people know about the deadly American pandemic that is elder abuse."

Created in a workbook format, Paradise Costs shows Americans how to take action in support of federal legislation to stop elder abuse now. The sample letters and petitions (which are also available at are designed to help readers voice their concerns to federal officials. "I'm urging participation via our interactive book and web site to lobby legislators to pass the Elder Justice Act now on the floor of both Houses of Congress," says the author. "Hopefully, others will be spared the suffering my father was forced to endure, and their families will not have to look on helplessly in horror as mine did."

Dr. Blum states, "Paradise Costs is a tragic, true-life tale. Unfortunately, the behaviors depicted in this book are all too common. No one knows how often criminals, 'brand new best friends' or family members exploit the elderly…Money has always been associated with the worst of human behavior. Elder financial abuse is no exception. Some of those taking assets from the elderly have been tied to gang violence, prostitution and drug trafficking. Their elderly victims are often subjected to physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse and murder."

Recognizing the difficulty of the aftermath of this tragedy, Ms. Masiello is determined not to let her father's death be in vain. "My goal now is to take my story to the nation and raise awareness of this deplorable social ill that's plaguing America," she says.
Dr. Blum and Ms. Masiello are Members of the Elder Justice Coalition
Revised book includes Dr. Blum's PARADISE-2 & IDEAL models for assessingundue influence and diminishing capacity.

CONTACT: Irene A. Masiello
CONTACT: Bennett Blum, M.D.

1 comment:

Just browsing said...

My own experience in learning about financial exploitation of the elderly came as the result of watching a very dear friend be convinced to turn his back on long-time acquaintances, finance questionable schemes and change an estate plan that had been in place for years. Since he’d never been married, there was no one with legal standing to question what was going on.

I read Ms Masiello's book and immediately bought more copies to give to friends. I am especially impressed that she was willing to share personal details about herself and her family in order to expose the tactics used by those who went after her father’s assets. As she found, when someone has been brainwashed to be suspicious of those closest to them, it’s especially difficult to convince authorities that something is wrong.

Since this began, I’ve been told many similar stories about relatives, friends, or simply acquaintances. These stores should not be lost. If you’ve witnessed elder abuse or exploitation, please do something. You can:
* Visit the site to find a local resource who can help
* Visit the site to learn how to contact your legislators
* Visit the site to share your experience