It is often noted that senior citizens frequently have their political issues addressed because of their reliable voting record. Seniors vote in elections in larger numbers than any other demographic group. As such, lawmakers are usually well-attuned to the challenges and perspectives of many in the senior community. On top of that, the number of seniors is growing. Demographics changes nationwide, with the aging of the Baby Boom generation, means that a larger and larger percentage of the country is over 65 (or over 75 or 85).
These factors combined are likely playing a key role in a push by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address to clear concern for the senior community: elder neglect and exploitation.
Proposed Federal Law
As discussed in a recent HomeTownSource story, the “Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act” was introduced by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator John Cornyn. It is very similar in content to a bill that the duo proposed last year.
According to the the story, the focus of the bill is ramping up the oversight of court-appointed guardians. These guardians are those officially given legal control over a senior in need, often adult children or other relatives. While many guardians work hard to ensure the seniors in their care are treated appropriately at all times, there are some guardians who use the position to exploit. The hope with the legislation is to minimize that mistreatment. As Senator Klobuchar noted, “Seniors deserve to live their lives safe from abuse and mistreatment. […] There is mounting evidence that some guardians use their position of power for their own gain. This legislation would help increase accountability and oversight of guardians and protect those who are most vulnerable.”
More specifically, the bill calls for increased federal support for individual state programs geared at guardian oversight. If the legislation became law then state courts would apply for funding to help in their guardianship process. The money would be used for things like more aggressive background checks or more sophisticated filing systems to ensure frequent “check-ups” on seniors at risk.
Sadly, the legislation was spurred in large part by research from the Government Accountability Office which found significant problems with mistreatment by court-appointed guardians. The abuse is widespread, including physical and emotional mistreatment. Financial abuse is probably the most common of all, as seniors have lost tens of millions of dollars to unscrupulous individuals who are unable to resist the urge to take from those in their care.
It is rare to see any issue be addressed by both Republicans and Democrats in Washington these days. Disagreement and conflict seem to be the rule with most federal legislation. But the fact that the two sides may be able to come together on this issue is a testament to the critical importance of preventing senior abuse and mistreatment. That is especially true now as more and more community members join the ranks of the elderly and require assistance in various forms to get by each day.
For help understanding the law as it related to senior abuse, please contact the elder neglect attorneys at our firm today.
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