Actor Mickey Rooney continues his testimony in a Los Angeles courtroom this week in a conservatorship hearing. The actor has leveled allegations of elder neglect and abuse against his step-son and the wife of his step-son, claiming that the pair neglected and mistreated the 91-year-old actor, according to news reports.
Rooney has enjoyed one of the longest acting careers in the business, with film and movie roles spanning nine decades. Unfortunately, Rooney claims to have become the victim of elder abuse, a serious problem that affects millions of elderly Americans every year. Rooney has alleged in court documents that his step-son, the son of his current wife, has mistreated Rooney and meddled in his financial affairs over the last decade. Claiming verbal, emotional and financial abuse, Rooney took out a restraining order against his step-son and his step-son’s wife last year and has appointed an attorney to be the conservator of his estate. Rooney says that he was deprived of medication and food, as well as being prevented from leaving his home while under the care of his step-son.
“Over the course of time, my daily life became… unbearable,” Rooney said in his March 2011 testimony to Congress. “I felt trapped, scared, used, frustrated and overall, when a man feels helpless, it’s terrible.”
Sadly, Rooney’s allegations are common in elder abuse cases, which are all too common in the United States.
Elder Abuse Facts
According to statistics compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse, or the NCEA, between one and two million Americans over the age of 65 is abused each year by someone on whom they depend for protection or care. Statistics relating to elder abuse are particularly difficult to come by because experts believe that many victims of elder abuse do not report the abuse. Less than 15 percent of elder abuse incidents come to the attention of authorities, according to the NCEA. Reporting of financial abuse may be even less frequent, putting the total number of financial abuse victims as high as 5 million elderly individuals each year.
The total number of reported cases of neglect or abuse runs about 500,000 each year; however, experts believe that for every reported case, as many as five others go unreported. Elderly victims of abuse do not report abuse for a variety of reasons.
In some cases, the victim is physically or mentally unable to report the abuse. In most cases, the victim is dependent on the abuser for daily care or assistance, making it even harder to find the courage to report the abuse. Add to that the fact that elderly abuse victims are often ashamed of being abused and it is easy to see how estimates of the number of elderly abused may be vastly underestimated.
What Can You Do If You Suspect Abuse?
If you have an elderly loved one or family member whom you suspect is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, you may wish to take the following steps:
- Monitor the situation. Make notes about signs or symptoms that you feel may be indicative of the abuse.
- Stop by frequently and unannounced.
- Look for signs such as bruises, indications that the individual has been restrained, loss of weight, change of mood, or change in personal hygiene habits.
- Talk to your loved one or family member in private as soon possible. Try to put him or her at ease and explain how prevalent elder abuse is so that your loved one will feel comfortable opening up to you.
- Consult with an elder abuse attorney as soon as possible.
If your Yakima-area elderly loved one or family member has been financially, emotionally, or physically abused or neglected, you may have a legal cause of action against the caregiver, facility or agency providing the care if their negligence caused or contributed to the abuse or neglect. In addition, there may be legal steps you can take to prevent future abuse of your loved one.
Contact a Yakima elder abuse attorney as soon as possible to determine what legal options you have. The elder abuse attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help. Contact our legal team today by calling 509-457-1948 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.