Celebrity daughter shares her fight against elder abuse (CA)

LAGUNA WOODS – Kerri Kasem, daughter of late radio personality Casey Kasem, spoke about her campaign against elder abuse June 15 at City Hall during a program presented by Laura’s House, a nonprofit aiding victims of domestic abuse.

The event was held in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and aimed to educate the community on domestic elder abuse and available services.

Kasem spoke on the one-year anniversary of the death of her father, best known as radio host of “American Top 40” and the voice of Shaggy in the “Scooby Doo” franchise.

She said in July 2013, her stepmother began preventing her and her siblings from seeing their aging father, who had recently been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

“She ripped out his phone lines…no phone calls or emails were returned…we couldn’t get in to see my dad, no matter what we did,” Kasem said. “My stepmother said, ‘You’re just going to have to get used to not seeing your dad anymore.’ ”

“And that’s when we went to court.”

Kasem soon learned there was no provision in California state law giving the judge the authority to rule on visitation. Although she was eventually able to procure a conservatorship, she was outraged by the lack of legally enforceable visitation rights for the relatives of ailing adults.

Determined to change this, Kasem founded the Kasem Care Foundation in September 2013.

As part of her campaign, she proposed a visitation bill to her stepfather, attorney Robert Naylor, who collaborated with attorney Troy Martin, California senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and California assemblyman Mike Gatto to draft a bill that is now in nine state legislatures.

Iowa and Texas passed their own versions of the bill this year.

Last month, the California State Assembly unanimously passed a similar bill, which is pending vote by the Senate.

“If this law were in effect during my dad’s struggles, he would still be alive today,” Kasem said.

Every year, more that 1 million U.S. senior citizens are abused by a loved one, said Jennifer Ponce, prevention education specialist for Laura’s House, which received a $2,500 community services grant from the city earlier this year.

Adam Dodge, legal director for Laura’s House, talked about ways to recognize and stop financial elder abuse.

“In most cases, the abuser is not some stranger,” he said. “When it’s your child, spouse or caregiver, it can be very difficult for the targeted person to see that the person they love and care about is actually abusing them.”

Financial abuse usually starts with minor theft and then escalates to larger theft, check forgery or forcible signing of documents,Dodge added.

He urged residents to offer support to suspected elder abuse victims and to take advantage of Laguna Woods Social Services Department, Laura’s House and Orange County Adult Protective Services.


Celebrity daughter shares her fight against elder abuse
Sara Gold
June 23, 2015
The Orange County Register