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$1 Million Grant Awarded to Test Surveillance Technology to Prevent Elder Abuse

Stephanie Bergren
Chinese Health, Aging, and Policy Program
Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research
Rutgers University
[email protected]

Chicago, IL, 10-10-2017— Dr. XinQi Dong and Rush University Medical Center were awarded a $1 million grant from Administration for Community Living and Administration on Aging (ACL/AoA)’s Elder Justice Innovation initiative to use different forms of surveillance technology to prevent elder abuse in community settings. Elder abuse is common, predictable, costly and fatal condition that affect 10% of US aging populations. Moreover, research suggest that only 1/14 cases are reported to Adult Protective Services. To-date, there have been no evi-dence-based effective interventions to reduce or prevent elder abuse in community settings.

People behave differently when they know they are being watched. When we see a police vehicle on the side of highway, we slow down. When we know there is a camera watch-ing us, we tend to act/react differently,” says Dong. “If surveillance can deter some behaviors, can we also use surveillance to protect vulnerable older adults from abuse, neglect and exploi-tation?”

Over the course of two years, the project will test the effectiveness of surveillance technology in home settings to deter elder abuse. Funding will be used to develop a low-cost intervention with community members, legal and technological experts, and elder justice advo-cates to maximize impact and minimize costs, implement the intervention in the community, and evaluate the final impact and unintended consequences of the intervention for victims and perpetrators.

To achieve these goals, this team will also embark on the ethical and human subject protection complexities for both victims and perpetrators. Dr. XinQi Dong said, “As much as our primary goal being how to best protect the rights and safety of elder abuse victims, we have to also consider to the constitutional rights of the perpetrators. We believe the experts from our team will collectively confront these challenges to advance the field of elder justice.”

“Elder abuse is a complicated issue, which usually involves multiple types of abuse like physical abuse or financial exploitation and multiple perpetrators. Stopping even one case of elder abuse is often very complicated,” said Co-Investigator Dr. Melissa Simon of North-western University. “Our aim is to implement and test an intervention that can reduce the fre-quency of elder abuse in high risk areas of our community, which necessitates examining the problem of elder abuse from many disciplines and building multi-sector and multi-institutional partnerships.”

This interdisciplinary and multi-sector project is led by XinQi Dong, MD, MPH, who has been a leader in the field of elder abuse with more than 200 publications and wrote a state-of-science text book on elder abuse. Other team members include Melissa A. Simon. MD, MPH of Northwestern University, who is an expert in intervention and implementation sci-ence; Dr. Karen Stein from the University of Delaware; Claire McFarland JD is the Executive Director of the Elder Law & Wellness Initiative; Joyce Gallagher, MS. is the Executive Direc-tor for Senior Services of the Department of Family and Support Services; Mr. Bernie Cobbins Jr. is the President of Illinois Association Long Term Care Ombudsman, and Regional Om-budsman of Chicago Family and Support Services; and Patricia Banks, Honorable Judge: is the Presiding Judge (former) of Elder Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, IL and Commissioner for Commission for Law and Aging, American Bar Association.