Thursday, March 19, 2015

Elder abuse definitions updated with House-approved proposal

A bill aimed at improving responses to elder abuse victims got unanimous support from the Ohio House today.

House Bill 24 would update Ohio’s current definitions for elder abuse, which are “ significantly outdated,” said prime sponsor, Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea. Crafted decades ago, they focus on physical abuse, but, increasingly, financial abuse has become just as much of a problem, he said.

The House also voted unanimously to create a new domestic relations judgeship in Delaware County.

This is the third time in three sessions that the House has passed the elder abuse bill, which Dovilla said is the first comprehensive reforms to adult protective services law in two decades.

He noted that the most recent report from Ohio Adult Protective Services found 16,300 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults age 60 and older. For every report of abuse, Dovilla said, an estimated five are unreported, according to a study requested by Congress.

The bill would create a state-managed registry to help identify patterns of elder abuse.

“For the first time, Ohio will be able to accurately monitor and track the abuse of our senior citizens,” Dovilla said.

The bill would expand the list of people required to report elderly abuse or exploitation to a county department of job and family services. This includes pharmacists, hospital employees, firefighters, bank employees and accountants.

“If it can be caught early, people can be protected from emptied bank accounts, improper transfers of property and unwise investments,” Beth Kowalczyk, chief policy officer for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging Bank, recently told lawmakers. “Bank employees and financial planners are frequently in a position to see what may be going on in an older adult’s home.”

The bill also would develop an ongoing training program for protective service caseworkers.

“Getting ahead of this is more important than ever,” said Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton. “ With this bill we can take a proactive approach and get these cases investigated before someone is drained of their life’s savings.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Meanwhile, Delaware County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, could add another judge if the bill that passed the House also gets Senate approval.

Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, said the decision to make the new judgeship a domestic relations position came after talking to attorneys who work in the court, and the current common pleas judges. The new judge would focus on issues including divorces, paternity and child support.

Brenner noted that Delaware County’s population jumped from 66,000 in 1990 to 175,000 in 2010, and is close to passing 200,000. “We are seeing an increased caseload,” he said, noting the Ohio Supreme Court recommended that the judgeship be created. 

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse definitions updated with House-approved proposal

1 comment:

Betty said...

It may seem insignificant, but the definitions are very important.