|A House committee heard testimony Wednesday on a 14-bill package that targets the abuse of Michigan’s elderly. (MGN Image)|
The bipartisan 14-bill package calls for changes in state law to make it a crime to assault or restrain an elder adult; the language also defines an elder adult as anyone 65 years old and older.
Democratic Rep. Sarah Anthony of Lansing said she has heard stories from people in her district who have been abuse or taken advantage of, either financially, emotionally or physically. She said some people may feel ashamed of the situation, especially if the abuse is from someone they know, trust and love.
“I think what’s at state is their livelihood, their peace of mind, so if we can put in some tougher laws that actually tackle that and address it, I think that we are able to really just protect the people in our state,” Anthony said Wednesday after the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors.
The language in the bill package would also expand a provision of state law prohibiting embezzlement from a vulnerable adult to include an elder adult.
The bill package comes after Attorney General Dana Nessel launched an elder abuse task force aimed at cracking down any abuse targeting Michigan’s seniors.
“More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse. They experience physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, or neglect. The symptoms and treatment of abusue against our most senior population are complex and demand a concerted effort by this state to tackle what is often unrecognized and unreported social problem,” Nessel said during the task force launch event in March. “That’s why we have brought together dozens of different organizations to work collectively and collaboratively to tackle the challenge.”
In Michigan trial courts in 2018, 9,285 petitions were filed seeking a full or limited guardianship for an adult and 7,337 were granted, according to the state Supreme Court, 1,766 of those requests were dismissed or withdrawn and 116 were denied. On Dec. 31, 2018, there were 32,137 adults with a full or limited guardian.
Anthony said when Nessel launched the task force, the legislation had already been introduced and the issue of elder abuse impacts everyone. Anthony added she envisions the legislation working in tandem with Nessel’s efforts.
“I think it’s all good work, I think at the end of the day we will all come up with some really good legislation. But these legislators came together and listened to their constituents so we want to be responsive to those constituents,” Anthony added. “This is not the first legislative session that decided to tackle the legislation and we hope it’s going to be the last.”
To report elder abuse, call 1-800-24-ABUSE or online on the elder abuse website.
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Bipartisan effort underway in Lansing to tackle elder abuse