AG Dana Nessel creates elder abuse task force

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is forming an elder abuse task force.

More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan experience abuse, Nessel said.

While abuse can happen to anyone, most targets are women or those who depend on others for help with everyday activities like bathing and taking medicine.

The abuse is not just physical. It's also things like financial exploitation, emotional abuse or neglect.

These are some things to look out for. Many times victims seem depressed or even confused, they become withdrawn and have unexplained bruises, burns, or scars.

Nessel officially made the announcement Monday morning at the Kelley Law Library in Lansing.

More than 30 organizations have committed to joining this task force, according to the press release.

"The task force initiatives include requiring professional guardians to become certified, developing statutory basic rights for families, reviewing the process of a guardian removing a ward from his or her home, and limiting the number of wards per guardian," according to the release.

Nessel was joined by Michigan Supreme Court justices Richard Bernstein, Megan Cavanagh and Brian Zahra; state Rep. Brian Elder; Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks, and Dennis Burgio, a 72-year-old Macomb resident, according to a press release.

Burgio was a victim of elder abuse, losing his entire savings because a close friend took advantage of him.

"He was like the son I never had. I trusted him unconditionally,” said Burgio. “I am fortunate. By the grace of God, I can continue to work to rebuild some of my savings. It is more difficult because my wife has health issues. However, our family is supportive and able to help us.”

Nessel said that if anyone sees any signs of elder abuse or has concerns, they should report it to her office. There is a hotline for anonymous tips of elder abuse: 844-242-2873 or online at www.mi.gov/elderabuse.