(PRWEB) June 13, 2013
As experts on elder care prepare to mark June 15 as UN-designated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Barry Kozak, director of the Elder Law Program at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School, suggests Americans put in place legal protections that can help in times of need.
“As sad as it sounds, actions against the elderly can be criminal,” says Barry Kozak, director of the Elder Law Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The latest estimation is more than 2 million elderly Americans are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation annually.
In recognition of the United Nations-designated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday, June 15, 2013, Kozak and hundreds of other elder law specialists in the United States and around the world are raising awareness of the major issues impacting the elderly.
“Our role at The John Marshall Law School is to give future attorneys the training they need to understand the rights of the elderly, and how to work on behalf of elderly clients to protect them from abusive situations,” he said. “John Marshall has one of only a handful of certificate programs dedicated to this specialized legal field.”
As the population ages, and care through extended families diminishes, Kozak believes the problems faced by the elderly will multiply and have a major impact on societies not just in the United States but around the world.
The John Marshall Law School is working with East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, China, through the Sino-American Research Center on an Aging Population, a project allowing faculty and government representatives to share information, research and writings to learn how best to advocate for the independence, dignity and care for aging populations in the U.S., China and around the world. Kozak team-taught a course on comparative Sino-American approaches to elder law in the spring 2013 semester with Professor Sun Ying in Shanghai.
New legal protections are in the works for victims of elder abuse, which also is being recognized as a growing health concern. Elder abuse happens regardless of one’s social standing or wealthand crosses all cultures: persons can face physical and mental abuse, as well as financial exploitation.
During the spring semester, Kozak and a panel of experts showed the Mickey Rooney documentary “Last Will and Embezzlement: Protecting the Elderly from Financial Exploitation” and then discussed how state and federal laws are designed to eliminate elder abuse, or at least hold the violators civilly or criminally liable.
“Too often, it’s the helpless person who can no longer take care of himself or his affairs, who faces abuse,” Kozak said. As more elderly face the debilitating effects of mental illnesses, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or physical ailments such as cancer or diabetes, they often fall victim to those who are supposed to be supporting them.
“We have laws in place to protect the victim, but the crimes frequently go unreported. My advice is plan ahead,” Kozak said. “Think about how you want to be taken care of—in your home or a special care facility—and how you want to support yourself as you age. Having a loved one for support is wonderful, but a third party can make certain your wishes are carried out.”
About The John Marshall Law School
The John Marshall Law School, founded in 1899, is an independent law school located in the heart of Chicago’s legal, financial and commercial districts. Through classes, clinics and special programs, students develop the strategic, analytical and transactional lawyering skills that are so valuable to employers. Its excellent curriculum, coupled with outstanding skills and experiential learning, help make John Marshall graduates practice-ready from day one. For practicing attorneys, John Marshall offers nine LLM degrees, more than any other law school in the Midwest. John Marshall is also a leader in providing distance education options in intellectual property, estate planning and employee benefits at the advanced graduate degree level. John Marshall offers six clinical experiences, including the nationally recognized Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic and the Fair Housing Legal Clinic. U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 edition ranks John Marshall’s Lawyering Skills Program second and its Intellectual Property Law program 12th in the nation.