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Utah senator introduces federal bill designed to combat abuse of elderly

Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced bipartisan legislation into the United States Senate that would address elder abuse and crimes against seniors.

"Thousands of cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation go unaddressed each day," pointed out Hatch. "Yet no federal employee works full-time to address elder abuse and neglect. This bill will give much-needed attention and resources to fighting these crimes and providing seniors the protections they need to live safely and securely."

The Elder Justice Act, Senate Bill 2010, is designed to create a national focus on elder abuse to increase detection, prevention, prosecution and victim assistance.

The federal legislative proposal ensures that states, communities, consumers and families will have access to the information and resources they need to confront the difficult issue, explained the Utah senator.

Hatch introduced the measure with Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Senate aging committee chairman Gordon Smith of Oregon and Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, ranking minority member of the committee.

"The Elder Justice Act is based on the same approach the federal government uses to address child abuse and violence against women," explained Hatch. "We're combining law enforcement and public health efforts and funding that are now spread throughout many federal agencies into dual offices of elder justice at the departments of justice and health and human services."

"We're targeting the funding to the programs that are most effective, and we're coordinating our resources with state and local efforts to combat crimes against our seniors," continued the Utah senator.

In addition, the bill establishes new programs to assist victims and provides grants for education and training for law enforcement and prosecutors, while developing more forensic expertise.

The proposed federal legislation also includes measures to increase and retain staff in long-term care facilities, including a staff demonstration project, training and degree programs, and incentives to draw more people to health professions serving elders.

Hatch's legislation has been endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition, a national membership organization comprised of 397 groups dedicated to eliminating elder abuse, neglect and exploitation in America.

The organization's membership includes representatives from the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, National Association of Adult Protective Service Administrators, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of State Ombudsman Programs and the National Association of State Units on Aging.

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