Elder Abuse Task Force comes to Marquette

Published: Aug. 12, 2019 at 6:18 PM EDT
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, State Representative Sarah Cambensy, and Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh hosted an Elder Abuse Town Hall at Northern Michigan University's campus Monday.

The forum served as a place for attendees to ask questions to their government officials and to discuss the complex issue of Elder Abuse in Michigan, with the Elder Abuse Task Force.

The Elder Abuse Task Force is focused on stopping abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly. During the forum, they discussed many topics ranging from communication of rights to adult guardianship.

"There will come a point where most guardianships of the elderly are deemed as crimes against humanity,” said Paul Strobel, an attorney attending the town hall.

According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, there are 73,000 cases of elder abuse statewide annually. However, it’s uncertain as to how many of those cases are solely guardianship related.

"It's difficult to find, to identify guardians, and it's more of a volunteer position,” said attendee Lori Stephens-Brown from Community Action Alger – Marquette.

Another problem faced with guardianship abuse is that many cases go unreported.

"They are so desperate for help and for company they are going to put up with those things,” Brown elaborated.

Health officials agree it is important to take the time find the proper guardians, but some say the process does need to be rushed.

"I'm not sure what the solution is there. We say 'Oh we are jumping too fast to guardianship’, well what do you want them to do? Sit in a hospital bed? Because they aren't going to send them home.

“We have very poor advance planning for advanced directives here in the state, and I think that the State of Michigan needs to take a more of an aggressive approach in getting individuals at the age of 30 or 40 to make their advance directives public,” said Wayne Johnson of Norlite Nursing Center, advocating for change, focusing on guardianship education early on.

This was the last stop of the Elder Abuse Task Force Town Hall tour.

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