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Statement of James P. Firman President and CEO, National Council on Aging on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) urges Congress to pass the Elder Justice Act which will provide more protection at the federal level, ensuring that older Americans will not have to live in fear of being abused physically, psychologically or financially.

It's estimated that as many as 5 million seniors suffer from elder abuse and neglect each year, costing the nation $2.6 billion a year. It is time to give America's seniors the security, dignity and justice they deserve.

NCOA is working with the Elder Justice Coalition ( to help move this important legislation through the legislative process this summer.

In addition, NCOA and WITNESS (, an international organization that specializes in using video to create social change and protect human rights, are collaborating on collecting powerful stories of older Americans who have suffered from elder abuse to make a strong case for passage of this important legislation.

With WITNESS, NCOA has just produced a video on "Breaking the Silence: Why We Need to Pass the Elder Justice Act" featuring advocates from across the country who are committed to the passage of the Act. The video can be found at where advocates can also find out how to get involved in the campaign and share their own stories.

Congress has been holding hearings on elder abuse for 25 years, but there has not yet been a Congressional response to address this significant problem. Although many states have been combating such abuse through a patchwork of state laws, a coordinated and targeted approach is needed at the federal level.

The Elder Justice Act will provide a dedicated funding stream to support efforts across the country to end elder abuse and neglect. For the first time, it will establish a network at the federal level to address this ongoing problem and will provide a foundation to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in and prosecute elder abuse.

NCOA pledges to work closely with Congress and help mobilize thousands of advocates across the nation to pass this needed law.

The National Council on Aging, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, is a national voice for older Americans -- especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged -- and the community organizations that serve them. We turn creative ideas into effective programs that help millions of the nation's seniors live independently, find jobs and benefits, manage their health and contribute to their communities. For more information, visit

SOURCE National Council on Aging
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