Sen. Franken introduced legislation to protect Minnesota seniors from abuse Washington, D.C. – Yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 7), U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act, a bill that would protect Minnesota’s seniors by implementing a comprehensive network of elder abuse prevention and response measures.
He co-sponsored the bill along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Robert Casey (D-Pa.).
“Across the country, far too many seniors are being abused or exploited by the very people who should be looking after their well-being,” 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.”
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 throughout the country.
Specifically, the bill would:
* Authorize 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. This provision is based on Sen. Franken’s Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act, which he introduced in October.
* Require 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 requires the research center to study and disseminate this information to states regularly.
* Incorporate 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. 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 that is three times higher than those who are not victims of elder abuse.
Sen. Franken has long been an advocate for Minnesota’s seniors. In December, he introduced legislation that would expand direct care to older Americans, allowing many seniors to avoid costly hospitalization and receive higher quality, more affordable treatment.