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Mickey Rooney Is Drawing Attention To Elder Abuse, Hollywood Style

| Mar 28, 2011 | Firm News

Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote the following excerpted story about Mickey Rooney’s March 2, 2010 testimony before the United States Senate at Salon.com.  See full story here.  Rooney’s is a sad modern life story.  And it shows that even the rich and famous are not exempt.

And it seems as if this story has now led to a greater public awareness of the abuse of our elders.  This problem is one of the reasons I practice law – there must be a remedy and this kind of abuse must be stopped.  Some of my best work has been done trying to remedy it – against an auction house that looted the estate of a 92 yr old woman, against an insurance company that took advantage of an 80 yr old’s confusion following an accident, on behalf of a nursing home intervening in an issue of financial abuse.

I was reminded of this story again today during my visit as an Ombudsman at my nursing home in Niles.  One of the staff brought it up at a meeting, almost in passing.  They know about my law practice and were hoping that people and governments were stepping up on protections and legislation.

Damn straight, is what I thought.  As long as I am practicing law, was my next thought.

And this abuse comes in many forms.  Physical, financial, emotional.  Fiduciaries do it.  Family members do it.  Caregivers do it.  Auctioneers do it.  Be aware.  And speak up.  Don’t let it happen to your parents or other elders.

Photo from AP/Alex Brandon

Of the many evil aspects of abuse — whether it’s physical, emotional or financial — the shame that too often accompanies it, the way it can make its victims feel complicit in their exploitation, is right up there. But on Wednesday, one prominent survivor spoke to Congress to deliver a message to the world: “You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The message came from 90-year-old screen legend Mickey Rooney. In an emotional testimony before a Senate Special Committee on Aging inquiring on elder abuse, the actor told how he was kept a “prisoner in his own home.” He currently has a restraining order against his 52-year-old stepson Christopher Aber. In court papers, Rooney has accused him of intimidating him, preventing him from leaving his house, and withholding his mail, medication and food. “My money was stolen from me, by someone close,” he told the committee. “My money was taken and misused. When I asked for information, I was told that I couldn’t have any of my own information. I was literally left powerless.”