Mickey Rooney Testifies about Elder Abuse

“Always get married in the morning. That way if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted the whole day.” – -Mickey Rooney

mickey_rooney_young.jpgBeloved actor and entertainer Mickey Rooney is 90 years old. His film, television, and stage appearances span nearly his entire lifetime. As a teenager he was a superstar in the Andy Hardy films. With his close friend Judy Garland, he appeared in a long string of successful musicals. Rooney has been quoted as saying he was a 14 year-old boy for 30 years.

He continued to work in movies and television into his late 80s, appearing in the 2006 film Night at the Museum.

Mickey Rooney has been married eight (count’em, eight) times. He was often the butt of jokes for his alleged inability to stay married, and he joked about it himself: “My marriage license reads: ‘To whom it may concern.'” Rooney has been married to his current wife, Jan Chamberlin, for more than 30 years.

On February 16, 2011, Rooney was granted a temporary restraining order against Christopher Aber, Rooney’s stepson who is 52 years old. Aber is the son of Rooney’s wife, Jan Chamberlin. In the request for the restraining order, Rooney has accused his stepson of intimidating him, preventing him from leaving his house, and withholding his mail, medication and food.

On March 2, 2011, Mickey Rooney testified eloquently about elder abuse before the Senate Aging Committee.

mickey_rooney_old.jpg“My money was stolen from me, by someone close,” he told the committee. “My money was taken and misused. When I asked for information, I was told that I couldn’t have any of my own information. I was literally left powerless.” Rooney told how he was kept a ‘prisoner in his own home.’ “I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated,” Mr. Rooney said. Yet he was also afraid to tell anyone, he added. “When a man feels helpless, it is terrible. And I was helpless,” he said. “If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

The term “Elder Abuse” refers to any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Many people who are older, frail and vulnerable cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs.

According to a 2009 Government Accountability Office study, 14% of non-institutionalized older adults experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. The New York Times reports that a recent Investors Protection Trust survey found that “one in five Americans over 65 years old had been defrauded.”

While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:

● Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.

● Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.

● Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.

● Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.

● Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.

● Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

Most importantly, be alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

Alex Brandon writes for the AP, “The closer an abuser is to the victim, the easier the crime can be to pull off, and the harder it can be to break the silence. It all comes down, as it so frequently does — whether the victim is a child or a woman with no support system or a Hollywood legend who’s made over 300 films — to the abuser’s hold over someone who may not have the ability to leave.”