This summer, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to amend the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (H.R. 2922). With this legislation, the establishment of a permanent Elder Justice Initiative in the Department of Justice is demanded. What would this mean for older adults and their families?
More specifically, the Initiative would “coordinate advocacy and prosecution efforts related to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation,” according to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
The legislation supports efforts to combat elder abuse, and it is hoped that the Initiative in the Justice Department will lead to greater resources and attention toward such abuse. Horrifyingly, according to the National Council on Aging, “up to 5 million older Americans are abused every year,” which includes physical, emotional, and financial abuse, and more. This amounts to roughly 1 in 10 older Americans over the age of 60 years having experienced abuse!
Elder abuse is often under-reported due to a confluence of factors, which may include not believing the senior’s report (especially if they have been diagnosed with memory loss); shame on the part of the victim leading to them keeping silent; or general lack of awareness of the problem.
The Elder Justice Initiative is also expected to maintain and publish online public resources with information aimed at protecting elders from abuse or preventing fraud [see page 5 of the bill text]. A national elder fraud telephone hotline is also expected, which would “provide support to victims and resources to help victims”
Read the bill in full here: https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20210621/BILLS-117hr2922-SUS.pdf