Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

High-Tech Methods Used to Detect Elder Abuse

Working like the CSI investigators in the popular TV series, advocates for elderly individuals are beginning to use sophisticated techniques to detect abuse.

The following excerpts are from Forensic Skills Seek to Uncover Elder Abuse, NY Times, Sept. 27, 2006:

public health and law enforcement officials are learning to speak the same language and using the same forensic techniques as those popularized on the three C.S.I. television series to diagnose elder abuse and neglect. For decades, the techniques have been the state-of-the-art approach for investigating child abuse and domestic violence. But elder abuse has lagged far behind, suffering from a lack of financing, research and data.

Now change is in the air, and forensic techniques are just one of many new initiatives nationwide to protect the elderly. Geriatricians at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, for example, review county autopsy reports looking for suspicious themes. Bank tellers at Wachovia branches nationwide are learning to detect irregular transactions in the accounts of elderly customers.

Congress is also expected to consider, before the October recess, the Elder Justice Act of 2006, which would create the first nationwide database on elder abuse, replacing inconsistent or unavailable data. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, also assigns a federal official to coordinate projects and technical assistance and helps replicate programs like Orange County’s.

The article also reviews the Brooke Astor case discussed earlier on this blog.

Special thanks to Kent Schenkel (Associate Professor, New England School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


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