(Hartford, CT) – Senator Richard Blumenthal today chaired his first U.S. Senate field hearing, which discussed ways the federal government can partner with state and local efforts to end elder abuse in Connecticut and around the country. Over 14 percent of non-institutionalized adults experienced physical, psychological or sexual abuse, neglect or financial exploitation - and seniors are losing a minimum of $2.9 billion per year to financial abuse, an increase of 12% from 2008. ? Blumenthal said, “Our seniors have worked hard their entire lives, have given so much to our nation, and deserve our support. The fraud and abuse perpetrated on our seniors is absolutely unconscionable, and I am determined to combine my past experience as Attorney General with my new role in the Senate to end these outrageous acts and help bring security and peace of mind to our seniors. We need to give elder abuse the attention that it deserves, and I intend to attack it from every angle: building the infrastructure our states need to catch these perpetrators, and strengthening our federal justice system to allow for the maximum consequences for those who choose to undertake such acts.”
Blumenthal was joined at the hearing by 90-year-old Connecticut resident and World War II veteran Robert Matava, who fell victim to elder abuse after entrusting his son with his assets. During the hearing, Mr. Matava recounted his experience with elder abuse at the hands of those closest to him and outlined the embarrassment and shame that can come with elder abuse, preventing victims from reporting abuse to authorities.
“I never thought that I would be a victim. I never thought that my own son would turn me into a victim of abuse. However, as I testify today, I like to think that I am doing so as a survivor. While this situation is not resolved, I have not given up. I will not give up. If today’s hearing helps one person in a similar situation or helps another to prevent this from happening, then I will be happy and proud. I will have survived this horrible experience and all of us will have won a great victory,” said Mr. Matava.
Additionally, Blumenthal heard testimony from Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Greenlee represented the Obama Administration’s efforts to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which has historically served as the legislative vehicle to meet the needs of our seniors. During her testimony, Greenlee stated that older survivors of even modest forms of abuse have up to 300 percent higher morbidity and mortality rates than non-abused older people.
“The Older Americans Act has historically enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support. One of its great strengths is that it does not matter if an individual lives in a very rural or frontier area, or in an urban center - the programs and community-based supports it provides are flexible enough to meet the needs of individuals in diverse communities and settings…we believe that the reauthorization can strengthen the OAA and put it on a solid footing to meet the challenges of a growing population of seniors, while continuing to carry out its critical mission of helping elderly individuals maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities,” said Ms. Greenlee.
Blumenthal is a member of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, which makes policy recommendations to the Senate on issues affecting older Americans, including Medicare’s performance, oversight and administration of Social Security, pension coverage, employment opportunities and cases of fraud and abuse of and against the elderly.