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Elder Abuse Targeted in Newly Introduced Senate Bill

April 14, 2016

A bill that would amend the Older Americans Act (OAA) to better protect elders from abuse was introduced to Congress by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on April 5.

Specifically, the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act would establish a National Adult Protective Services Resource Center that would, among other measures, “develop, distribute, and provide training to home care and long-term care professionals and others on recognizing, reporting…and responding to the abuse, neglect (including self-neglect), and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, including home care consumers and residents of long-term care facilities.”

The Center would also disseminate research and best practices pertaining to effective responses to the abuse of elders and other long-term care consumers.

Another section of the bill would provide funding to states, area agencies on aging, and nonprofit organizations to “research and replicate successful models of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention and training.”

PHI’s Training to Prevent Adult Abuse and Neglect (TPAAN), recently rolled out throughout Michigan, is one model that has proven effective. The training program teaches communication and problem-solving skills that help deescalate situations that could become abusive.

The Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act would also expand the definition of “elder abuse” as it is currently written in the OAA (which Congress voted to reauthorize earlier this month).

The updated definition of the term would describe “abuse” as the “knowing infliction of physical or psychological harm or the knowing deprivation of goods or services that are necessary to meet essential needs or to avoid physical or psychological harm.”

In a statement, Elder Justice Coalition National Coordinator (and newly appointed American Society on Aging board chair) Bob Blancato said, “Elder abuse will not end until our society recognizes it as a true crisis and provides the tools to address it in a coordinated national effort. Senator Blumenthal’s bill moves us toward that goal.”

Blumenthal previously introduced his bill in 2012 and 2013, but each time it failed to come to a vote in the Senate, McKnight’s Long Term Care News reported on April 11.

— by Matthew Ozga

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