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What is the Elder Justice Coordinating Council?

The Elder Justice Act of 2009, as part of the Affordable Care Act, establishes the Elder Justice Coordinating Council to coordinate activities related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the Federal government. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council is directed by the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary serves as the Chair of the Council. Secretary Sebelius assigned responsibility for implementing the Coordinating Council to the Administration on Community Living/Administration on Aging. The Administration on Aging has long been engaged in efforts to protect older individuals from elder abuse including financial exploitation, physical abuse, neglect, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Through the Older Americans Act, the Administration on Aging endeavors to preserve the rights of older people and protect those who may not be able to protect themselves.

The Elder Justice Act also names the Attorney General of the United States as a permanent member of the Council. In addition to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General, the statute provides for inclusion as Council members the heads of each Federal department, agency or governmental entity identified as administering programs related to abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

In addition to participating in the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, through the years Federal Departments and Agencies have undertaken a number of activities to address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. A summary of relevant projects at participating Departments and Agencies is contained in the document entitled Elder Justice Interagency Working Group, Participating Federal Departments and Agencies, Mission Statements and Agency Activities Relevant to Elder Justice (PDF, 308KB).

The Problem of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are significant and under-recognized public health and human rights issues in the United States. Research has demonstrated that it has significant consequences for the health, well-being, and independence of our seniors. Available data suggests that each year at least 10 percent (or 5 million) older adults are subjected to abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation (Beach SR, Schulz R, Castle NG, Rosen J; Financial Exploitation and Psychological Mistreatment Among Older Adults: Differences Between African Americans and Non-African Americans in a Population-Based Survey; Gerontologist 2010). Further, only 1 in approximately 25 cases is ever reported to social service agencies (Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University & New York City Department for the Aging; (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study; New York; Author). The problem is further exacerbated by the lack of standardized practice, public awareness, and public policy guidelines at the national level.

How Will the Elder Justice Coordinating Council Operate?

The Elder Justice Act is an attempt to correct some of these problems. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council is a Federal entity charged with identifying and proposing solutions to the problems surrounding elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The Council is a permanent group, anticipated to meet twice a year, with the goal of better coordinating the Federal response to the elder abuse problem. The Coordinating Council will receive continuous input and support from an Elder Justice Interagency Working Group, a group of Federal employees in Cabinet-level departments and Federal agencies with expertise in the field of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

Do You Have Suggestions for the Council?

During the May 13, 2013 Coordinating Council meeting, Assistant Secretary Greenlee announced that the public are welcome to send comments and suggestions to the Council on implementation strategies for the 9 proposals (PDF, 102KB) for federal action to address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation presented during the meeting. If you would like to share your ideas and suggestions for implementing any of the 9 proposals, please email them to the Council.

Elder Justice Coordinating Council Meetings

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Last Modified: 12/31/1600