By by Christopher Jackson, J.D.
April 03, 2017
Elder Law of Michigan, Inc., is a nonprofit organization with offices in Lansing and Detroit, Michigan. For over 25 years, Elder Law of Michigan has assisted seniors with legal, housing, pension, and benefits access issues. While we offer a variety of no-charge services for seniors across Michigan, many of our efforts have important components that focus on a reduction in and prevention of elder abuse cases.
As a leader in statewide legal service delivery, Elder Law of Michigan’s Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors works directly with seniors to help address issues of financial and other types of abuse and exploitation that would otherwise go unaddressed. When talking with one of our hotline attorneys, it becomes apparent that they are unable to afford their debts and other monthly expenses because a family member is financially exploiting the senior in some way. Our hotline attorneys work to educate seniors in these situations on their rights and empower them to remove themselves from the exploitative situation.
Still, other seniors contact the Legal Hotline when the abuse or exploitation has escalated and the senior needs community resources to help escape the abusive situation. In these cases, with the permission of the senior, the Legal Hotline connects the senior with community service providers, such as local shelters, law enforcement agencies, Area Agencies on Aging, Adult Protective Services, and others, to help the senior escape their abusive situation.
Importantly, Elder Law of Michigan has had the opportunity to partner with the state of Michigan and other agencies across Michigan on the creation of the Michigan Elder Justice Coordinating Council. Through this initiative, the Council has partnered with stakeholders in political, higher education, law enforcement, and community resource agency capacities to develop educational materials, trainings, capacity assessments, referral systems, and advocacy through legislation to address elder abuse and exploitation across Michigan.
As part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we will be supporting the 5th Annual Michigan Elder Justice & At-Risk Adult Summit and the 2nd Annual Elder Abuse Has No Borders Conference.
From Left to Right: Ann Arbor Police Dept. Sgt. Pat Hughes, Lake Trust Bank Fraud Investigator Susan Rogers, and Ann Arbor Police Dept. Detective Gerald Tacey. To the right, award presenter Cynthia Farrell, State Manager for the Adult Services Policy Unit for the Aging and Adult Services Agency.
This conference brings together American and Canadian partners to collaborate on elder abuse prevention efforts both in Michigan and Ontario, Canada.
These activities and our continuing efforts every day have a substantial impact on the lives of seniors. Raising public awareness about the negative impacts on elder abuse not only on seniors, but our communities, can make a real difference on creating lasting changes locally. With increased awareness there comes an increase in community focus on the prevention, leading to the development of community initiatives to address and prevent abuse, which can make a substantial, positive impact for seniors. Further, by directly assisting seniors who are living in situations of abuse and exploitation, Elder Law of Michigan is able to directly improve senior’s quality of life and empower seniors to end abuse.