Home & Garden Columns

Senior Power: End Elder Abuse

by Helen Rippier Wheeler
Wednesday August 04, 2010 - 09:01:00 AM

“If you want peace, work for justice.” 

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) 




Thanks to my colleague and friend, California Senior Legislator 

Joanna Kim-Selby, for checking the following Elder justice update.  


In July 2010, the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced the establishment of the Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation. Creation of this Board was part of the Elder Justice Act passed earlier in 2010. The Advisory Board will be creating both short and long-term multidisciplinary strategic plans for the development of the field of elder justice in the U.S. It will examine relevant research and identify best practices and make recommendations to the Elder Justice Coordinating Council and to Congress regarding improving and enhancing federal, state, and local elder justice programs, research, training and coordination.  


If you would like to be recommended for this Board by the EJC, send a brief bio to the Council at once. Nominations (including self-nominations) should be submitted to Edwin Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations, Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging, Washington, DC 20201, no later than August 15, 2010.  


The Congressional Report on the Feasibility of Establishing a Uniform National Database on Elder Abuse was recently released, the result of the passage by Congress of a small portion of the Elder Justice Act in 2006. The study was to develop a system of elder abuse data collection that produces accurate and easily accessible data and therefore ensure an appropriate systematic legislative response to the overall problem. The major points include: 

• Current research indicates that the problem of elder abuse is largely unreported.  

• Little progress has been made and data continue to be collected via numerous agencies using inconsistent definitions for the data.  

• The two primary options for the study are 1) a national prevalence study to determine how many older adults are abused, and 2) a nationally coordinated administrative dataset to examine the outcomes of services and interventions after abuse is reported.  

• Some technical considerations for establishing a national data collection effort are: 1) there must be a uniform national or benchmark definition for elder abuse, 2) whether reporting should be mandatory or voluntary, 3) what data elements to include, 4) how to ensure confidentiality, and 5) data systems issues.  

• This data collection effort will likely require some level of federal funding.  

Key recommendations and conclusions include: 

• Addressing systematic weaknesses in existing elder abuse data collection systems  

• Compiling a national database of state APS (adult protective services) data  

• Planning to build a comprehensive cross-disciplinary national database of administrative data on elder abuse by combining sources incrementally  

• Investing in a national data collection effort could build upon the existing systems. 


The California Elder Economic Security Standard Index (The Elder Index) is a new tool that quantifies how much income is needed for a senior with a given living arrangement and geographic location in order adequately to meet his or her basic needs living in the community. It is the only elder-specific financial measure of its kind, based on credible, publicly-available sources and has been calculated for all 58 California Counties. Using it makes it is possible to identify, as of 2007, each California County’s Annual Comparisons and Basic Monthly Expenses for Selected Household Types.  


For your consideration: 


If you have been issued, prescribed, or provided a cane, while transitioning from surgery>walker>cane for example, be sure to have the physical therapist adjust it to “your height.” And apply a stickum label with your phone number or email address. 


Chondroitin appears to be useless. Whether glucosamine is useful is conflicted, but some well-designed studies are negative. 


August 14th is Social Security’s 75th Birthday –  


I have learned of several persons diagnosed with pneumonia. To the “Who should receive one-time vaccination for pneumococcal pneumonia?” question, Medicare responds: “The groups at higher risk for invasive pneumococcal disease include those over 64 years old and others with increased susceptibility to this infection, such as patients with HIV, splenectomy, sickle cell disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic disorders of the lungs or heart, and cirrhosis. You can receive this vaccination on the same day that you get the flu shot, and for those covered under Medicare Part B, it is also free when ordered by a physician. However, the pneumococcal vaccine can be given at any time of year and is a once-in-a-lifetime vaccination for most people.” 


I am occasionally asked about “affordable housing” construction-related requirements in Berkeley. So I asked Steve Barton of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board staff, and he provided the following: “The City has an “inclusionary zoning” ordinance that requires that 20% of the units in such developments [I had mentioned Gaia, Library Gardens, New Californian, etc.] have their rents or in the case of condominiums their sales prices set according to a formula based on the area median income, typically that it be affordable to people with incomes at 80% of area median or be rented to tenants with Section 8 vouchers. Unfortunately, a recent court decision (Palmer v. Los Angeles) has invalidated all local ordinances in California that require inclusionary rental units on the grounds that it is a prohibited form of rent control. The decision does not change the requirement for existing buildings and does not change requirements for condominium projects but at the moment there are no more local inclusionary requirements in California. Many developments still provide below-market rate rental units in return for concessions from the locality, such as additional density, but it’s now voluntary and based on incentives rather than on requirements. State law requires that local governments provide these “density bonuses” in return for below-market rate units following a fairly complex formula that gives more additional density based on the degree of affordability and the percentage of units made affordable. Affordable housing advocates are hoping that with a new governor they could get the state legislature to change the law to make it clear that it does not apply to inclusionary ordinances in this way.” 






Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at pen136@dslextreme.com. 

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