UCI Geriatrics Earns National Recognition

Every year, nearly 2 million senior citizens suffer neglect, mistreatment or exploitation, according to the research of U.S. Administration on Aging. Moreover, five incidents of abuse remain unreported for each single incident that is, meaning over 30,000 Orange County citizens experience elder maltreatment annually. Since their inception, the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, and the Elder Abuse Forensic Center have revolutionized the identification and prosecution of these cases, uniting experts from the medical, legal and social professions for the common cause of combating elder abuse.

For its accomplishments in confronting elder abuse, the University of California, Irvine has been distinguished as the National Center on Elder Abuse and awarded a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging. The award, which will be allocated over duration of three years, will provide $561,000 pereach year.

Consolidating regional and national efforts to counter elder abuse, the NCEA will serve as an information-gathering institution to recognize and prevent incidents of elder maltreatment and consolidate regional and national efforts to counter elder abuse.

Dr. Laura Mosqueda and Mary Twomey, directors of the UCI Elder Abuse Forensic Center and the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, will lead the new facility. Mosqueda currently serves as Ronald Reagan Chair in Geriatrics,

the Chair of UCI’s Department of Family Medicine, and Director of its Program in Geriatrics. Prior to coming to UCI, Mary Twomey was Director of Social Services at the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the Bar Association of San Francisco and managed the San Francisco Consortium for Elder Abuse Prevention.

“We look forward to working with many national organizations and individuals, bringing the field together in a major initiative to increase awareness of and find solutions to this significant public health issue,” Mosqueda said.                                                                                                                                               The Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect was, founded by a grant from the Archstone Foundation, and offers technical assistance, direct services and in-depth research regarding elder abuse.  A part of the Program in Geriatrics at the UCI School of Medicine, the Center provides medical evaluations, forensic assessments and interdisciplinary case-planning.

The Center is funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Justice, and the California Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center conducts research, which it uses to promote awareness on issues of senior abuse. In addition, the Center hosts the Elder Abuse Training Institute to educate professionals from medical, legal and federal agencies about the identification, investigation, prosecution and prevention of elder abuse cases as well as how to properly address the needs of victims.

Boasting just as impressive a legacy of public service is the UCI Elder Abuse Forensic Center. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department granted the Elder Abuse Forensic Center the Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services. The Center, which ultimately seeks to aid victims of elder abuse, provides consultations, taped victim interviews, in-home evidentiary investigations, in-home medical and mental status evaluations, and multi-agency team case review and action plans among other services.

The Elder Abuse Forensic Center has progressed into a prime information source for specialists tackling elder maltreatment, and the forensic center has inspired activists campaigning against senior citizen abuse across the nation. Los Angeles County, for example, looked to the Center as athe UCI Elder Abuse Forensic Center to model for its own facility. In total, the nation now has four Elder Abuse Forensic Centers in California and one in New York.

With the aid of grant given by the Administration on Aging, the National Center on Elder Abuse will continue bringing to light the suffering of senior abuse and neglect victims from across the nation and work to eradicate the phenomenon from society as a whole.