Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Act Creates a New Path of Elder Abuse, Which Is Legal

By Margaret Dore, Esq, MBA

Elder abuse is already a problem in the District of Columbia. Failing to reject the Act will make a bad situation worse. See below.

A.  Elder Abuse is a Pervasive Problem, Which Includes the Financial Exploitation and Murder of Older Adults
Elder abuse is a problem in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States.[1] Perpetrators are often family members who start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or to coercing victims to change their wills or to liquidate their assets.[2] Victims may even be murdered.[3] Amy Mix, of the AARP Legal Counsel of the Elderly, states:
[Perpetrators] are family members, lots are friends, often people who befriend a senior through church . . . . We had a senior victim who had given her life savings away to some scammer who told her that she’d won the lottery and would have to pay the taxes ahead of time. . . .  The scammer found the victim using information in her husband’s obituary.[4]  
Elder abuse is prevalent in part because victims do not report it.  The D.C. Department of Human Services states:
Typically, the abuser is a relative, frequently an adult child of the victim.... Some don’t want to report their own child as an abuser.[5] 
B.  "Even if a Patient Struggled, 'Who Would Know?"

The Act has no required oversight at the death.[6] In addition, the drugs used for assisted suicide and euthanasia are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be administered to a restrained or sleeping person without consent.[7] Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, puts it this way:
With assisted suicide laws in Washington and Oregon [and with the Act], perpetrators can . . . take a “legal” route, by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over administration. . . . Even if a patient struggled, “who would know?” (Emphasis added).[] 

[1]  Kathryn Alfisi, “Breaking the Silence on Elder Abuse,” Washington Lawyer, February 2015, available at and MetLife Mature Market Institute Study: “Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances,” March 2009, available at
[2]  MetLife Mature Market Institute, supra.
[3]  Id., p. 24; and Yanan Wang, “This 80-year-old ‘Black Widow,’ who lured lonesome old men to horrible fates, is out of prison again,” Washington Post, 03/21/16, at
[4]   Kathryn Alfisi, supra
[5]  "Adult Abuse, " D.C. Department of Human Services, 0723/15, available here at A-57.
[6]  See the Act in its entirety, available here.
[7]  The drugs used for assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington include Secobarbital and Pentobarbital (Nembutal), which are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be injected without consent. See "Secobarbital Sodium Capsules, Drugs.Com, at and See also Oregon’s government report, page 6, attached to Dr. Toffler's Declaration at A-35 (listing these drugs).
[7]  Alex Schadenberg, Letter to the Editor, “Elder abuse a growing problem,” The Advocate, Official Publication of the Idaho State Bar, October 2010, page 14, available at