(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) today introduced the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, a bill to implement a comprehensive network of elder abuse prevention and response measures.
"A spreading epidemic of seniors who are abused or exploited by family or caregivers must be stopped,” said Blumenthal. “Rigorous screening and reporting to detect and deter abuse, physical or financial, is necessary to help remedy seniors who may be too fearful or embarrassed to report it themselves. This measure would require tough national standards for screening and reporting so wrongdoers can be stopped and prosecuted. There is no excuse for one in ten seniors continuing to suffer the physical injury, emotional anguish and anxiety, and financial hardship, costing upwards of $3 billion every year.”
"Our nation’s seniors deserve the peace of mind of knowing that they are protected from physical and emotional abuse and financial exploitation," said Whitehouse. "I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill, which would strengthen and improve State programs to better prevent and address elder abuse."
"Across the country, far too many seniors are being abused or exploited by the very people who should be looking after their wellbeing," said Sen. Franken. "This bill will address the tragedy of elder abuse - which is far too prevalent in Minnesota and across the country - by providing resources to protect seniors from abuse and help those who have already been abused."
“We must bring this largely silent epidemic of elder abuse to an end”, said Senator Casey. “We have an obligation to protect our parents and neighbors who have helped build our Nation. This bill is an important step in the right direction in stopping the abuse and neglect of our older citizens.”
While child abuse and domestic violence screenings are well-integrated into the nation’s health and community services network, elder abuse screening requirements are noticeably absent in federally-supported senior services. The Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act seeks to fill that void by encouraging the development of a strong network of elder abuse screening and support programs to identify instances of elder abuse and stop them before they happen. In some states, strong mandatory reporting laws and penalties exist for crimes against seniors, but they are ineffective without screening and reporting standards in every part of our community.
Specifically, the bill would:
Toughen federal standards for abuse – toughens the federal definitions for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, streamlining the definitions for elder abuse between the Elder Justice Act and the Older Americans Act (OAA). The Act also defines Adult Protective Services (APS) in the Older Americans Act, the only victim services resource for adults with the authority to act on reports of abuse. The bill defines financial exploitation for the first time in federal statue, and adds victims or alleged victims of abuse and exploitation to a list of conditions eligible for priority for social services under the Older Americans Act.
Improved Coordination of all Elder Justice Activities – requires that the appropriate training and prevention and provision of elder justice throughout the OAA Programs are routinely updated as necessary and sees to the full integration of elder justice activities with all social services programs under the Act.
Authorization of the National Adult Protective Services Resource Center – codifies the National Adult Protective Resources Center in the Administration on Aging, and expand both its guidance and responsibilities to states.
Requires the development of best elder abuse screening practices – directs the National Adult Protective Resources Center to support states in the development of best practices to incorporate elder abuse screening into health and wellness services and would require the research center to study and disseminate this information to states regularly.
State prevention, assessment, and response to elder abuse – incorporates elder abuse prevention training, screening, and reporting protocol into all senior service access points that receive federal dollars under this bill as part of their state and area plans on aging
Improvement of training for elder justice activities –incorporates the research and replication of successful models of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention and training into the Older Individuals’ Protection from Violence Projects and strengthens Elder Justice sensitivity training requirements.
In 2009, there were 6 million instances of elder abuse reported nationwide, and only 23.5% of cases are reported due to a lack of screening, awareness, and prevention efforts. It is estimated that seniors lose a minimum of $2.9 billion each year to financial abuse and exploitation and victims experience a mortality rate of three times higher than those who are not victims of elder abuse.