What do actor Mickey Rooney and the late philanthropist Brooke Astor have in common? Unfortunately, the tie that binds these two famous names is that of elder abuse. Rooney, who is now 90 years old with one of the longest careers of any actor, filed a case against his stepchildren in February, 2011 charging verbal, emotional and financial abuse, and alleging that they denied him such basic necessities as food and medicine.
Mr. Rooney testified that the pair not only took all of his identification, but that they also put a lock on the refrigerator and threatened him if he were to come forward. Luckily, he did come forward and recently testified about his experience to a special Senate committee considering legislation to curb abuses of senior citizens.
Brooke Astor was a beloved New York philanthropist, with an estimated estate of $185 million. As Mrs. Astor grew elderly and infirm, Astor’s grandson filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of his father as her legal guardian. The lawsuit alleged that Marshall had not provided for his elderly mother and allowed her to live in squalor. Furthermore, the lawsuite alleged that he had cut back on medication and doctor’s visits, while enriching himself with income from her estate. In 2009, Brooke Astor’s son was convicted of stealing millions from her.
It is estimated that near half a million elderly people are being abused by family, friends, and/or advisors. The crime is known as elder exploitation, and many of the victims are too sick to know that abuse is taking place or to be able to report the abuse. For those that suspect there is an issue, fear of abuse, abandonment, and retribution also play a role in keeping them from reporting their concerns.
An elder law attorney can address many of the issues that senior citizens are facing. If you or a loved one suspects elder abuse, not only should you seek assistance immediately, but consult with an elder law attorney for guidance.