Monday, February 2, 2015

Another (!!!) study published in the area of financial exploitation of the elderly

Financial exploitation of the elderly is an area where many studies have been proposed and even conducted, but action is scarce.  For those keeping score at home, here is information on yet another study.

The USDOJ  and USDHHS prepared a document entitled The Elder Justice Roadmap.  "This Roadmap is intended primarily to be a strategic planning resource by the field, for the field to advance our collective efforts to prevent and combat elder abuse. It is a dynamic document that can be adapted and used by grassroots and community groups, multidisciplinary teams, and local, state, and national governmental and non-governmental entities, all of which have critical and complementary roles to play in tackling and implementing the recommendations identified in this document."

Like all such studies, this one is fairly masterful at stating the obvious.  For example, here are recommendations for "[j]ustice system and legal responses to elder abuse:"
▪ Create law enforcement and prosecution units that specialize in elder abuse, and enhance involvement of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and State Attorney General Offices in elder justice cases, such as those involving abuse and neglect in long-term care.
▪ Educate court personnel about the needs of elder abuse victims so that they can knowledgably [sic] handle elder abuse cases and accommodate older people’s needs. 
▪ Educate civil attorneys about the needs of elder abuse victims and their critical role in identifying and responding to these cases.
Lest we think that this might mean an end to the studies, and a start of real action by law enforcement and prosecuting agencies, this report contains pages and pages of recommendations for further research.  Perhaps they could name a "blue ribbon panel" to engage in this research.  Meantime, those of us in the trenches will pursue private enforcement of existing laws as we fight against financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

For those hoping that this document could serve as insight into the USDOJ's own views, no such luck.  "The recommendations, points of view, and opinions in this document are solely those of the authors, subject matter experts and stakeholders and do not represent official positions or policies of either the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

Hat tip: Dana Shilling, Roadmap Project: Priorities for Prevention, 17 Victimization of the Elderly & Disabled 75 (Civic Research Inst., 2015).

For previous commentary on these issues, click here.