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December 01, 2014

2014 Review: New Guide Helps Law Enforcement Detect and Respond to Elder Abuse

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 36, Issue 2.)


The Commission on Law and Aging recently published Legal Issues Related to Elder Abuse: A Pocket Guide for Law Enforcement. Development, production, and dissemination of the pocket guide was funded through a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The guide was written by Lori Stiegel, senior attorney and elder abuse expert.

The 55-page guide is coil-bound, tabbed, color-coded, and cross-referenced for ease of use. It is laminated for durability and small (4” by 5”) so that it may be carried in a pocket or attached to a patrol car visor.

The guide provides brief explanations of:

  • legal concepts, documents, and tools that may be misused to commit elder abuse or used properly to remedy it, and
  • issues and actions that justice system professionals should consider if they suspect elder abuse has occurred.

Specific topics include:

  • Types of Elder Abuse
  • Abusers & Risk Factors
  • Consent, Capacity, & Undue Influence
  • Adult Protective Services & Mandatory Reporting
  • Considerations for Community Corrections
  • Deeds & Life Estates
  • Guardians/Conservators
  • Health Care Advance Directives
  • Joint Owners/Joint Accounts
  • Medicaid Planning
  • Nursing Homes & Assisted Living
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Representative Payees & VA Fiduciaries
  • Reverse Mortgages
  • Trusts
  • Wills

Stiegel was assisted by an advisory committee composed of representatives from law enforcement, community corrections, prosecutors, and victim advocates. Members included:

  • The Honorable John Conery, a judge in Louisiana
  • Robert Fleming, an elder law practitioner in Arizona
  • Dale Gillette, a retired law enforcement officer and TRIAD program coordinator in Ohio
  • Trudy Gregorie, a victim advocate from Washington, DC
  • Nancy Halverson, a community corrections official from Minnesota
  • Ricker Hamilton, formerly an adult protective services administrator in Maine
  • Tristan Svare, an elder abuse prosecutor from California
  • Randy Thomas, a retired law enforcement officer/academy instructor in South Carolina

More than 23,000 guides were printed. BJA’s policy advisor for the project, Linda Hammond-Deckard, distributed 2,000 copies at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in October. As a result, numerous law enforcement agencies and prosecutors already have requested several thousand more copies.

Information about ordering the pocket guide or downloading the PDF of the guide can be found online at: ■