It’s a Bigger Problem than You Think
As a loving daughter to my mom who is struggling with serious health issues and a granddaughter who recently lost her beloved grandmother, it is difficult for me to imagine anyone taking advantage of the elderly. Not that I consider my mom to be elderly, just older than me. I was raised to respect my elders, as old-fashioned as that may sound. This is why I struggled a bit when the Gerontology Consortium of Michiana, of which I am an active member, selected elder abuse as the focus for their annual conference coming up on May 31. I found myself doubting the decision, wondering if the problem was big enough in the communities we serve.
I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. According to the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect at the University of California Irvine’s School of Medicine, “nearly two million older Americans are believed to experience abuse each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. But only one in five cases is reported.”
As we have been working on the conference, I have become more aware of the issue and listened to stories in the local news highlighting that the problem is here in our community as well – stories that I may not have previously noticed. I found myself asking, how could I have missed this? Will the conference do enough to make people aware?
This is the fifth year for the annual conference held at Holy Cross College, and we usually have about 200 health care professionals, family caregivers and community members in attendance. As an educational event that lasts all day, the conference only appeals to a certain audience, and I worried that we might not have a large enough impact. Luckily, another opportunity was presented to us. The Gerontology Consortium of Michiana is going to host the Indiana premier of a documentary starring Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney the night before the conference. Mr. Rooney provided testimony about his personal experience before the Senate Special Committee on Aging last year which sparked national attention for this issue.
The film examines the exploitation and victimization of the elderly. It was inspired by recent true-life events in the life of writer and producer Pamela Glasner, whose life savings were embezzled. In Glasner’s frustrating and ultimately futile struggle for justice, she learned just how prevalent these crimes are and how safe from prosecution the perpetrators are. She felt she had to do something, and so “Last Will and Embezzlement” was born.
“Our world is facing the largest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next in history,” Glasner warns, “putting into harm’s way more than 500 million Baby Boomers as we march headlong into old age ourselves – not to mention our adult children and our already aged parents.”
Glasner will be traveling to town for the Indiana premier of her film and will be available to answer questions at the event. The premier will take place on Wednesday, May 30 at the O’Laughlin Auditorium on the campus of St. Mary’s College. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m., and the film will begin at 7:00 p.m. A dessert reception with cash bar will be offered. The event is open to the public, and there will be no charge to attend due to a sponsorship provided by the Golden LivingCenter in Elkhart. Please call 574.239.8364 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for the event.
The conference, featuring Keynote speaker Paul Greenwood, will occur the following day, May 31st at Holy Cross College from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Mr. Greenwood is the head of elder abuse prosecutions in the San Diego County District Attorney’s office. Information about the conference and online registration is available at the Gerontology Consortium’s website at gcmichiana.org and on the Holy Cross College website at hcc-nd.edu. Click on the Gerontology Conference link on the left side of the site.