Mickey Rooney: Elder abuse made me feel trapped and scared

Entertainer Mickey Rooney waves on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2011, prior to testifying about elder abuse, before the Senate Aging Committee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) AP Photo/Alex Brandon

mickey rooney
Mickey Rooney prior to testifying about elder abuse before the Senate Aging Committee in Washington on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

(CBS/AP) Trapped, scared, used, and frustrated. That's how Mickey Rooney felt after being taken advantage of by a meddlesome family member, the 90-year-old film and television star told Congress on Wednesday.

Rooney was testifying before a special Senate committee that is considering legislation to curb abuses of senior citizens.

"Above all," Rooney said of being a victim of elder abuse, "when a man feels helpless, it's terrible."

And the problem is a lot more common than many people realize.

Every year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans fall victim to physical, psychological, sexual, financial, or other forms of abuse and neglect, according to the American Psychological Association. And for every case reported to authorities, experts estimate there may be as many as five cases that were not reported.

Elder abuse cuts across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. And it can occur anywhere - in nursing homes and other institutions as well as private homes. Older people who are demented are especially vulnerable, as are those who have a substance abuse problem - or are cared for by someone who does.

Rooney did not identify the family member he says abused him. But he has obtained a restraining order from a judge in Los Angeles keeping his stepson, Chris Aber, away from him until an April 5 court hearing.

Rooney has accused Aber in court filings of withholding food and medicine and meddling in his personal finances.

The Center urges people to report suspected abuse to a local adult protective services agency. To find the number of an agency near you, click here or call 800-677-111.

  • David W Freeman

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