Elder Justice Roundtable: Preparatory Time for Remarks to the Attorney General

In preparation for their session with Attorney General Janet Reno, participants were asked to identify actions that should be taken to deal more effectively with elder abuse.

Data Collection and Information Sharing

Dr. Rosalie Wolf, executive director of the Institute on Aging at University of Massachusetts Memorial healthcare, echoed the suggestions for establishment of a national forensic center on elder abuse and neglect to be followed later by regional centers.

Dr. Patricia McFeeley, assistant chief medical investigator at the University of New Mexico, highlighted the fact that there already exist crime labs and regional forensic centers that could be used in elder abuse investigations.

Lisa Nerenberg, a consultant in private practice in Redwood City, California, suggested that an online database would help people working in the field to share ideas.

Dr. William Hauda, adult services medical director at the INOVA Fact Center in Falls Church, Virginia, suggested that such a database could be a clearinghouse where people with particular expertise could disseminate information and materials on program design and assist law enforcement with the development of elder abuse cases.

Candace Heisler, a consultant and former prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, said the database should contain information on current programs dealing with elder abuse and neglect from around the country, with contact people and resource materials identified.

Education

Dr. Erik Lindbloom, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Missouri, stressed the importance of cross-disciplinary education among law enforcement, the medical profession, social workers, and APS to ensure that the necessary information is available for the prosecution of elder abuse and neglect cases.

Dr. Laura Mosqueda, director of geriatrics at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, pledged to work through the American Geriatric Society to provide more training for service providers and to evaluate the effectiveness of that training.

Ms. Susan Renz, a nurse and consultant with RS Connection Inc., emphasized the need to develop curricula in nursing, social work, and medical schools that focuses more on elder abuse and neglect.

Dr. Carl Eisdorfer, a professor with the University of Miami Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, suggested a joint program between physicians and law students involving issues such as involuntary commitment, among other topics. Through the Miami Area Geriatric Center, a national network, Dr. Eisdorfer said he also would work to develop a series of short courses to help put elder abuse and neglect on the national agenda. In addition, he suggested working with residency programs to include elder abuse issues at the "bedside."

Public Policy and Program Development

To institutionalize the momentum of this conference, Dr. Catherine Hawes, a professor at Texas A&M University's School of Rural Public Health, suggested that the Department of Justice establish a permanent task force to deal with elder justice.

Dr. Hawes pledged to designate elder abuse as a priority of the School of Rural Public Health through the Healthy People 2010 program. Through this program, they would identify best practices and assist health departments in addressing the issue.

The importance of developing a constituency around this issue was highlighted by Dr. Karl Pillemer, professor at Cornell University's Department of Human Development. He suggested that prominent figures, such as Attorney General Reno, speak out about elder abuse. Documenting the cost and prevalence of such abuse also might force the issue farther up on the agenda.

And Dr. Hauda noted that the State of Virginia has enacted legislation that will pay for any evaluation of a person who has been a victim of a crime, and that a panel is being formed to establish guidelines for adult victims. The process may take as long as 2 years, but it is an opportunity to obtain existing funding.

Research

Dr. Sidney Stahl, chief, healthcare Organizations and Social Institutions at the National Institute on Aging, suggested conducting an analysis in collaboration with the social research community on elder abuse and neglect regarding interventions that work.

Dr. Hawes described two projects that she is undertaking for the healthcare Financing Administration (HCFA) on complaint investigation and the use of the nurse's aide registry to prevent abuse and neglect. The reports should be published in summer 2001.

According to Ms. Joanne Otto, APS administrator with the Colorado Department of Human Services, the National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators (NAAPSA) will be conducting a study on APS in the United States. She asked for feedback from participants on the gaps in their States or regions.

Date Created: October 18, 2000