Webinar Notes: The Brooke Astor Story

Webinar Notes Brooke Astor Story


Webinar Focus (0:20)

  • Elder abuse and financial exploitation


Resource Speakers (00:38)

  • Philip Marshall

    • His grandmother, Brooke Astor, was a victim of elder abuse
    • Founded Beyond Brooke to tell his grandmother’s story of elder abuse
    • Teaching and practicing in the field of historic preservation for over 30 years
    • Served as a keynote speaker for various topics and industries as healthcare, financial services, law enforcement, social services, etc.
    • Testified before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging
    • Blogger and consultant for TV shows dealing with missing and unidentified persons


Taking Action (08:59)

  • The circumstance that led to seeing the abuse and exploitation his grandmother experienced.


Upstandership (10:38)

  • 2016 – President Obama shared resolution to stomp out elderly abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
  • Upstandership – An ethic, a practice, a process, a state of where an individual/s who do not experience the pain/exploitation decide/s to take action against the abuses.
  • 8 Steps of Upstandership

    • Attention

      • Mindfulness of the present moment; not being distracted
    • Awareness

      • Achieved through education, training, and public campaigns
      • Public awareness involves reframing social issues and developing narratives around it
      • Involves identifying relevant cues, patterns, etc
    • Knowledge

      • Knowledge works towards no elder abuse
      • To know is to notice

        • Prevalent risk factors
        • Relevant cues and situation
      • Know resources for rescue and recovery
    • Responsibility

      • Acknowledge our personal responsibility
    • Act

      • Refer
      • Report
      • Intervene

        • In emergencies
        • When safe
    • Response ability

      • Ability to respond
    • Justice

      • Through justice we achieve:

        • Victim healing
        • Perpetrator accountability
    • Advocate

      • Advocate the cause
      • Show support to the victims
  • Upstandership comes full circle when victims command our attention.


Messaging (18:37)

  • Frameworks Institute – Gauging Aging: Framing Strategies to Advance and Address Ageism as Policy Issues

    • Discusses the issue of Elderly Abuse and Ageism
    • Provides recommendation for advocates of Elder Abuse


Complacent Complicit (19:44)

  • Philip’s battle for his grandmother, Brooke Astor, and against his father consumed his life
  • 2009 – 6 months clinical trial and conviction of his father

    • Even after the case, the pain persists for the victims and their family
  • To be complacent is to be complicit. Our silence protects perpetrators
  • Negligence – can be in the personal, professional and/or societal levels


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (22:31)

  • Advances towards elder justice are being achieved through:

    • Awareness
    • Research
    • Practice
    • Legislation
  • Explore creative solutions to engage older Americans more socially and economically
  • Protect those in old age from abuse and exploitation
  • Inflicted through the betrayal of trust


The Brooke Astor Story (24:08; 41:07)

  • 1953 – Marriage to Vincent Astor
  • Age 60 – Wrote a memoir of her childhood “Patchwork Child”
  • 1959 – The Vincent Astor Foundation was established to alleviate human suffering
  • 1998 – Age 96, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to recognize her achievements in philanthropy
  • 2002 – 100th birthday, disappeared from the limelight
  • 2006 – Philip’s guardianship petition exposed the elder abuse Brooke Astor experienced
  • At 104, she advanced the quality of life at the end of life
  • Ageism as a social issue, a great impediment to elder justice.
  • Anthony Kuser, born in NYC in 1924

    • Changed name to Anthony Mashall
    • Was the more dependent party in his relationship with mother Brooke.
    • Anthony Marshall claimed that Brooke Astor was delusional prior to him embezzling funds
    • Alzheimer’s inflicted Brooke Astor was made to sign over $600 million in bequests to Tony and wife, Charlene.
    • Maine Vacation Estate was transferred to son Anthony Marshall and wife
    • Brooke Astor’s staffs’ diary kept records of the events that happen in the household
    • Philip Marshall was awarded guardianship of Brooke Astor
    • Brooke Astor's son and son's attorney are indicted by a New York Grand Jury on charges alleging they conspired to defraud and steal millions from her estate, FindLaw.com, November 2007


Elder Abuse Behaviors and signs (30:19)

  • Behavior

    • Financial

      • Threatening, coercion about assets or wills
      • Taking control of older person’s finances against their wishes and denying access to their own money
      • Abusing powers of attorney
      • Stealing goods
      • Unauthorized use of banking and financial documents
      • Recent addition of a signature on a bank account
    • Psychological

      • Pressuring, intimidating, bullying
      • Name-calling, verbal abuse
      • Treating an older person like a child
      • Threatening to harm the person, other people or pets
      • Emotional blackmail (e.g. withdraw access to grandchildren, family, friends, services, placement in aged-care facility)
      • Preventing contact with family and friends; phone/computer/mail
      • Preventing religious and cultural practice
      • Moving older person away from family or friends
    • Neglect

      • Failure to provide basic needs
      • Under- and over-medication
      • Exposure to danger or lack of supervision, isolation
      • Overly attentive carer in the company of others
      • Refusal to permit others to provide appropriate  care
    • Physical

      • Pushing, shoving, rough-handling
      • Kicking, hitting punching, slapping, biting, burning
      • Restraining – physical or medical
      • Locking the person in a room or home
      • Intentional injury
      • Overuse or misuse of medications
    • Sexual

      • Non-consensual sexual contact language, or exploitative behavior
      • Rape, sexual assault
      • Cleaning or treating genital area roughly or inappropriately
      • Unwanted exposure to pornography
      • Enforced nudity
      • Any behavior that makes an older person feel uncomfortable about their body
  • Signs

    • Financial

      • Unexplained disappearance of belongings
      • Inability to pay bills, unpaid bills
      • Significant bank withdrawals
      • Changes to will
      • Inability to access bank accounts or statement
      • Disparity between living conditions and money
      • No money to pay for essentials
    • Psychological

      • Resignation, shame
      • Depression, tearfulness
      • Confusion, agitation, social isolation/withdrawal
      • Helplessness
      • Paranoia
      • Disrupted appetite and sleep patterns
      • Unusual passivity or anger
      • Sadness, grief
      • Changes in levels of self-esteem
      • Worry or anxiety
    • Neglect

      • Inadequate clothing – too hot, too cold
      • Poor hygiene; unkempt appearance
      • Lack of medical or dental care
      • Absence of required aids
      • Exposure to unsafe/unhealthy/unsanitary conditions
      • Weight loss, dehydration, poor skin, malnutrition
    • Physical

      • Internal or external injuries
      • Broken or healing bones
      • Lacerations/injuries to mouth, lips, gums, eyes, ears, teeth
      • Evidence of hitting: bruises, choke marks, hair loss, welts
      • Burns
    • Sexual

      • Unexplained STD, incontinence
      • Injury and trauma: scratches, bruises on face, neck, chest, abdomen, thighs, buttocks
      • Trauma including bleeding around genitals, chest, rectum or mouth
      • Torn or bloody underclothing/bedding
      • Anxiety around perpetrator


Elder Abuse (31:00)

  • Context

    • The Abuse Intervention Model (AIM): A Pragmatic Approach to Intervention for Elder Mistreatment by Laura Mosqueda, et al.

      • Vulnerable Older Adult
      • Trusted Other
      • Context
    • Causation isn’t contrastive, it’s contextual

      • Julian Reiss, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Durham University
  • Risk Factors and Characteristics

    • Victim

      • Dementia or cognitive impairment
      • Physical disability
      • Social isolation, lack of support, loneliness
      • Over time: Added debilitation, trauma from abuse
    • Abuser

      • Mental illness
      • Substance abuse
      • Dependence (on the victim)
      • Caregiver burnout
      • Over time: Escalation of acts
  • Prevention

    • “…elder abuse is likely the most widespread problem of older people that is largely preventable (unlike many disease conditions of old age).” – Pillemer, et al, 2016. “Elder Abuse: Global Situation, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies.” Gerontologist, 2016, Vol. 56, No. S2, S194.
  • Circle of Support

    • Very important but unrecognized

      • approximately 73 million have had personal knowledge of a victim
      • approximately 44 million have become involved in helping
      • for over 32 million adult Americans, just knowing is highly stressful
      • actually providing help to the victim intensifies personal distress
    • For Brooke Astor

      • Butler Chris Ely
      • Friends
      • Physical therapist
      • Family
  • Capacity

    • Diminishes through time, until there is lack of capacity at the end
    • Senior Capacity Screening

      • Essential to determining legal matters, guardianship appointments, estate contests

        • Report/Respond
        • Capacity Screening
        • Options + Plan
        • Manage
    • “…issues are compounded further by the fact that there yet does not seem to be a uniformed standard by physicians for assessing decision-making capacity. – Volicer L, Ganzini L. “Health professionals’ views on standards for decision-making capacity regarding refusal of medical treatment in mild Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2003; 51(9): 1270-1274. Cited in Moye, Jennifer. “Decision-Making Capacity in LongTerm Care Residents.” Annals of Long-Term Care, Volume 23, Issue 9, September 2015
    • Resources that laid the foundation for legal and moral obligations regarding capacity

      • NAPSA Survey for NAPSA Conference
      • Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Psychologists
      • Handbook of Assessment in Clinical Gerontology
      • Interview of Decisional Abilities (IDA)
      • Assessment of Capacity for Everyday Decisionmaking (the ACED)
      • American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
  • Cognitive Impairment

    • Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc. endure double jeopardy when abuse is applied
  • Undue Influence

    • Factors across different models

      • Isolation
      • Dependence
      • Powerlessness
      • Siege Mentality
      • Fear/Vulnerability
      • Staying Unaware
      • Emotional Manipulation/Exploitation
      • Acquiescence
      • Loss
      • Susceptibility
      • Confidential relationship
      • Active procurement
      • Monetary Loss
      • Shame/Secrecy
    • Resources

      • Developing an Undue Influence Screening Tool for Adult Protective Services.
  • Forms of Abuse

    • Financial exploitation* – second top type of elder abuse, next to neglect
    • Emotional/Psychological Abuse*
    • Undue Influence*
    • Deprivation*
    • (Self) Neglect*
    • Isolation*
    • Abandonment
    • Physical or chemical restraint
    • Physical* or sexual abuse

* applied to Brooke Astor’s case

  • Financial Industry

    • Play critical role in detecting, preventing and arresting elder financial abuse
    • Initiatives

      • First Global Summit, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
      • Senior$afe NASAA Model Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation.
      • Financial Wellness for Longer Lives
  • Elder Ecology

    • Circle of support

      • Elder Family friends
      • Neighbors
      • Caregivers
      • Professionals

        • Financial industry
        • First responders
        • Law enforcement
        • Protective services
      • Communities


Quick poll

  • Which type of elder abuse do you see or have dealt with the most often? (04:10)

    • Financial abuse           82%
    • Undue influence          32%
    • Isolation                       28%
    • Neglect                        59%
    • Other                           18%
  • What do you think the biggest obstacles are to investigating and prosecuting elder abuse cases? (06:18)

    • Lack of understanding among law enforcement to investigate cases          10%
    • Lack of understanding among prosecutors in identifying crime                    8%
    • Not enough “safety net” services for victims                                                  15%
    • All of the above                                                                                              59%
    • Other                                                                                                               7%



Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman

Aging and Demographic Change | Frameworks InstitutePatchwork Child by Brooke Astor

Elder Abuse Helpline

The Abuse Intervention Model Laura Mosqueda


Additional Resources
8 months ago
The Brooke Astor Story: Hard-learned lessons that address elder abuse and financial exploitation
Brooke Astor was a writer, and socialite who lived a long life that’s one for the books. Br […]
Brooke Astor
10 months ago
A Personal Story of Elder Abuse and Advocacy: An Interview with Philip Marshall
It's easy to believe that elder abuse can only happen to certain populations of society. But […]
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