The Aug. 4 Metro article “In Va., a cautionary tale for seniors ” talked about elderly abuse and fraud, a scenario that is all too common. And it will continue to be, as long as there is no coordinated, federally funded system in place to prevent it.

Congress has established and funded national networks to protect children — and even animals — from abuse, but no similar system exists to protect vulnerable adults. It’s time for Congress to prioritize the health and safety of all Americans, regardless of age.

Nearly 5 million seniors are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation each year. Direct medical costs associated with elder abuse exceed $5 billion annually, and older victims of financial abuse, such as Pearl Buckley, the woman in the story, lose an estimated $2.9 billion each year.

Vulnerable adults deserve the same protections our society affords their pets and grandchildren. We must call upon Congress to make this a reality by fully funding the bipartisan Elder Justice Act, which it passed in 2010 but has yet to fund.

The system failed Ms. Buckley. Don’t let it fail anyone else.

Martha Roherty, Washington

The writer is the executive director of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities.