World Elder Abuse Awareness Day


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2013

Remarks by Debra Whitman, Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs, AARP

By: Debra Whitman

Publish Date: June  18,  2013

WEAADRemarks at U.S. Mission reception, United Nations

Debra B. Whitman, AARP executive vice president for policy, strategy and international affairs

June 14, 2013


I’m very pleased to be representing AARP at today’s event on elder abuse, which is a problem all over the world. We need to do more to protect our vulnerable elders, so I want to thank everyone who has contributed to today’s program.

I would like to offer some perspective from AARP. This is because we hear stories of elder abuse all the time. Heart-wrenching stories.

Like the man who won the trust of an elderly neighbor. He then became her legal guardian, took over her apartment – and shipped her off to a nursing home.

Or like the older woman whose granddaughter illegally added her own name to the women’s property deed – in effect stealing her grandmother’s home and taking out the equity.

These are just two of many stories we hear about gross abuse -- of power of attorney, guardianship, and basic trust -- even by close relatives.

Finding ways to address this problem goes to the core of what AARP is all about. Our vision is of a society in which all people live with dignity and purpose.  We support efforts to combat elder abuse at the state, national and international levels.

Our affiliate group Legal Counsel for the Elderly represented in court those two abused seniors I just described.

We succeeded in getting the woman who was exploited by a guardian returned to her own home.

Unfortunately, in the case of the conniving granddaughter, the older woman died. But we were able to get at least some justice, by returning the home to its appropriate heirs.

These legal cases are just one dimension of our effort. AARP has a long history of supporting education and advocacy throughout the United States to protect older people from various forms of mistreatment.

We find that financial exploitation is the most prevalent form of elder abuse, and it can cause injuries far beyond the pocketbook.

So we have made it a top priority to advocate for laws and regulations that toughen the penalties for abuse and ensure adequate funding for adult protective services.

We also try to help our members through education. AARP media regularly put the spotlight on scams and fraud that target seniors. We want not only tougher laws and stronger enforcement, but broader public awareness – which is why this day is so important. 

Elder abuse is not just an American problem. It is a global problem, and AARP is committed to working with the international community to address it. We are always interested in gaining insights from other countries and other organizations on better ways to prevent elder abuse – before it happens.

Again, thanks to all of you for supporting this effort.