Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force to help prevent abuse of older adults

Elder abuse hotline established

Dana Nessel (WDIV)

DETROIT – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the launch of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force on Monday. 

She was joined by Supreme Court Justices Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh, Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks, state legislators Rep. Brian Elder and Sen. Paul Wojno, and 72-year-old Macomb resident Dennis Burgio. 

“More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse,” said Nessel.  “They experience physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, or neglect.  The symptoms and treatment of abuse against our most senior population are complex and demand a concerted effort by this state to tackle what is an often unrecognized and unreported social problem.  That’s why we have brought together dozens of different organizations to work collectively and collaboratively to tackle the challenge.”

Elder abuse shares many of the dynamics of domestic abuse, including a vulnerable victim with emotional ties to the perpetrator, isolation from community resources and family support systems, and substantial underreporting as a result of fear, shame, humiliation, or misplaced affection.

Burgio was a victim of elder abuse.  The Macomb resident lost his entire savings because a close friend took advantage of their relationship.

"He was like the son I never had … I trusted him unconditionally,” said Burgio. “We loved him.” 
Burgio had to postpone his retirement for at least five years.  “I am fortunate. By the grace of God I can continue to work to rebuild some of my savings.  It is more difficult because my wife has health issues.  However, our family is supportive and able to help us.” 

Nessel urged Michigan residents to report any signs or concerns about elder abuse to her office, which has established an elder abuse hotline for anonymous tips.

To reach the hotline call 800-242-2873.