Mickey Rooney passionately testifies before Senate committee on elder abuse

I don’t know whether to cry or scream after reading this:

Mickey Rooney spoke out against elder abuse before a senate committee on aging today. The 90-year-old actor has been the alleged victim of abuse at the hands of his own stepkids, according to court documents.

“Unfortunately, I’m testifying by the committee today not just as a concerned citizen, which we all should be, but as a victim of older abuse — elder abuse, myself,” Rooney said. “For years I suffered silently, unable to muster the courage to seek the help that I knew I needed. Even when I tried to speak up, I was silenced. It seemed like no one believed me. But I never gave up.”

Rooney, 90, who has had one of the longest careers of any actor, filed a case against stepson Chris Aber and stepdaughter Christina Aber last month charging verbal, emotional and financial abuse, and alleging that they denied him such basic necessities as food and medicine.

“In my case, I was eventually and completely stripped of the ability to make even the most basic decisions — where we go or what we do. Decisions that everyone likes to make over the course of time my daily life became… unbearable,” Rooney said.

The goal of the senate hearing, entitled “Justice for All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation,” is to draw attention to the widely underreported problem and coordinate federal, state and local efforts to combat it.

“It’s a really sad but important issue and Mr. Rooney is definitely lending his star power to it,” committee spokesman Joe Bonfiglio said.

Rooney said he hopes his testimony will encourage other victims to stand up for themselves.

Damn the predatory users who take advantage of the elderly for personal/financial gain. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of the underhanded, vile things that happen to some of our nation’s seniors when no one else is looking. It makes me especially sick to think about the fact that in some cases it’s actual family – blood relatives – harming some of our nation’s most vulnerable. Hopefully Rooney’s testimony will shine a big bright light on this issue so that more seniors will have the courage to step forward in the event they are being abused and/or taken advantage of by someone they should be able to trust.

While we’re on the topic of seniors and people taking advantage of them, I’d like to get something off my chest.

My mother managed an apartment complex for able-bodied seniors for about 10 years when I was in my mid teens/early 20s and on many a visit I gained a high degree of respect for them, listening to stories of the things they did in their younger years, their accomplishments, listening to them talk about their kids and grandkids, listening to them worry about growing old and seeing their family less and less, their concerns about getting sick (or sicker) and eventually passing on, etc. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) lived with us in the last few years of her life in the early 80s. My parents are now old enough to be considered senior citizens. I’ve vowed neither of them will ever live in a rest home because I’m petrified at the thought after all the bad stories you hear, even though I’m sure there are plenty of good rest homes in the area.

These things happen to us all: Sometimes in the craziness of everyday life we don’t realize it but our impatience gets the best of us – we may be behind an elderly woman at the grocery store who is patiently counting out her coupons while we huffily tap our feet, anxious to get checked out and go home. We may have no choice but to be stuck behind a senior couple driving down a two lane road, and it irritates us – even though chances are the two of them are probably just being safe. Sometimes in conversations with our nation’s “seasoned citizens” we’d like nothing better than to escape out the first door we can find because the one-sided conversation isn’t interesting and/or is taking too long. Next time you find yourself in any of these situations and become impatient and irritated, take a deep breath and remember that these folks have paid their dues and it’s ok if they take their time with things. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid. It just means it takes them a little more time to do things than it used to. And it’s a good idea to always listen to them – they may not have many, if any, family members who are around (or who want to be around) to hear what they have to say, and five minutes is not that much time out of the average person’s busy day to listen to a kind elderly man or woman who just wants to shoot the breeze.

On a lighter note, why the heck do AARP and other “senior groups” start sending out membership invites so soon in someone’s life? I started getting them a few years ago, and I’m nowhere near senior citizen age yet. Makes no sense why they’d waste that time and money trying to get people to sign up who, I thought, were not even eligible. Have any of y’all experienced this annoyance?

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