Casey Kasem with his son, Mike, and daughter, Kerri. KTLA
Many of us have stories of unjust treatment of senior citizens - sometimes the victims are our neighbors, and sometimes they're our own family members. Looking back, we can see that incidents of isolation, neglect, manipulation, and even physical battery can be classified into one terrible phenomenon: elder abuse. And elder abuse affects us all, as Kerri Kasem, daughter of the late Casey Kasem of radio fame, is telling everyone who will listen.
Kerri Casem learned of the frightening reality of elder abuse through direct experience - when her father's health began rapidly deteriorating in 2013, she was denied access to visit him by his wife, Jean. Kerri recounted her ordeal, relating a story that is all too common:
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. 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.
In trying to legally confront and overcome Jean's isolation of her father, Kerri found out that the court couldn't rule on visitation rights. She would later manage to obtain a conservatorship, but she saw how woefully inadequate California law was when children were deprived of access to ailing parents and grandparents. With the assistance of State Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Kerri struck back hard with a major blow in the cause for elder abuse prevention: her "Visitation Bill" has been made law not just in California, but also in Iowa and Texas, with other states set to vote on similar measures.
Kerri Kasem may have more star power than an ordinary citizen, but her cause should be the cause of every community in California - the fight to protect our loved ones from elder abuse and financial exploitation. From raising money and supporting positive legislation to simply visiting our loved ones and checking on our neighbors, every one of us can contribute to safeguarding the elderly from harm. Don't be afraid to stand up and speak out against wrongdoing when the truth is on your side - so are millions of other Californians. The fight against elder abuse is just beginning, and every positive action you make can help stop this crime.