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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
from health, law enforcement, social services, or others as appropriate, to serve one or both of the following purposes: (1) analysis and collaboration on difficult cases that cannot be resolved through the intervention of a single professional or practitioner and (2) recommendations for and development of systemic improvements in response to problems unearthed through case analysis and experience. Fiduciary abuse specialist teams (sometimes known as financial abuse specialist teams or FASTs) are a distinct type of multidisciplinary team that focuses on fiduciary abuse. As such, they may involve different participants, such as accountants, from a more general team. Fatality review teams (FRTs, also known as death review teams or death investigation review teams) are another specialized form of multidisciplinary team. Their goal is to bring together various disciplines to examine deaths that resulted, or may have resulted, from elder abuse and to determine whether systemic changes in the response to elder abuse victims could prevent similar deaths in the future. Members of fatality review teams may also determine that the circumstances of a death ought to be pursued by a prosecutor; they have been used in the child abuse and domestic violence fields for years, and the elder abuse field is just beginning to establish them.
The Administration on Aging and, more recently, the Department of Justice have funded grant projects and conferences and stimulated efforts to identify and share information about best practices in elder mistreatment interventions. For more than 20 years, the Administration on Aging has funded the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) to develop and disseminate information on elder mistreatment, including adult protective services. The Department of Justice has sponsored some focus groups, a roundtable on forensic issues, a national symposium on elder mistreatment and consumer fraud, and several conferences encouraging law enforcement involvement in mistreatment cases, development of training programs for banking personnel, curricula to educate various professionals about the need for and benefit of collaboration, support of fatality review teams, and the development of recommendations related to forensic issues. The National Center on Elder Abuse recently conducted a national summit, bringing together experts from several professions to develop recommendations for a national agenda on elder mistreatment. Recommendations include a nationwide public awareness campaign, coordination of law enforcement efforts, study of adult protective services, and a federal law on elder mistreatment, among others. All of these efforts are now being pursued in the absence of any evidence regarding the effectiveness of the interventions being proposed and endorsed.
The specialized focus and collaboration reflected in these initiatives is an important step forward, because it increases the likelihood that systemic problems will be identified and that targeted interventions will be imple-