Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao Delivers Remarks at the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, our nation joins the world in voicing our opposition to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. On this day, the Department of Justice extends its support to elder victims and their loved ones, recognizing with gratitude those who have committed their lives to protecting older Americans, and affirms its unwavering commitment to combatting elder mistreatment in all its forms.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that that the population of Americans over 65 years of age will increase to 83.7 million in 2050, nearly double its estimated population of 43.1 million as of the most recent census. While many Americans are enjoying longer, healthier lives, far too many older Americans are suffering in the shadows. Some studies suggest that 10 percent of seniors may suffer some form of physical abuse, psychological or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation or neglect. Likewise, other studies suggest that older adults may suffer billions in losses as a result of financial fraud, and that being victimized by financial fraud could lead to higher rates of hospitalization and mortality.
“On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Department of Justice gives voice to those who have suffered from elder abuse, neglect, fraud and exploitation and commits to supporting those who combat elder mistreatment every day,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The department is dedicated to actively working with our federal agency partners as well as state, local and international law enforcement, prosecutors and civil attorneys, counselors and case workers, and healthcare professionals to address the growing problem of crime targeting the nation’s seniors.”
The Department of Justice, through its Elder Justice Initiative, which includes the work of many Department components, is working on multiple fronts to protect older Americans from elder mistreatment. The Department has aggressively prosecuted mass mailing fraud schemes, such as Jamaican lottery and psychic scams, many of which are international in nature and target seniors. The Department also launched 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces across the country in California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington to enhance the ability of federal, state, and local authorities to work together to combat elder financial fraud and to pursue those nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their Medicare and Medicaid residents. Additionally, in 2016, the Department’s Office for Victims of Crime and the Elder Justice Initiative, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, established the two-year Elder Justice AmeriCorps program, which received $2 million in Justice Department grant funding to provide legal assistance and support services to victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Lastly, the Department actively supports state and local efforts to prevent and combat elder abuse in a variety of ways, including:
Helping older victims and their families by connecting them to available resources, assistance and information on its Elder Justice website: www.elderjustice.gov;
Advancing our collective understanding of elder abuse through projects like the Elder Abuse Prevention Demonstration Project: www.justice.gov/elderjustice/pr/national-institute-justice-awards-funding-study-elder-abuse;
Enhancing state and local efforts to combat and prevent elder abuse through the development and dissemination of training materials and resources for prosecutors, law enforcement, civil legal aid workers, victim specialists, and clinicians; and
Raising public awareness of elder abuse and financial exploitation through the Elder Justice website, webinars, and public meetings.
While some progress has been made in stemming the tide of elder abuse and financial exploitation, there is so much that we still must accomplish. So, on this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we ask all Americans to join the Department of Justice in redoubling its efforts to prevent and combat all forms of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
More information about the Department of Justice’s elder justice efforts can be found on its Elder Justice Website at https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice.