Elder abuse bill must be approved

Published 10:33 am Friday, April 3, 2015

A bill introduced this year, which recently passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, seeks to strengthen existing adult protective services laws by improving the response to elder abuse incidents and by encouraging reporting of elder abuse cases.

There aren’t many statistics available when it comes to elder abuse, at both the national and state level. Causes of injury or death are not always reported accurately in instances of elder abuse and the victims, many times, are unable to report abuse, due to a lack of mental or physical capacity. Victims may also feel dependent on those who hurt them for financial support or general care.

But elder abuse isn’t just physical abuse that results in an injury. The definition also extends to unreasonable confinement, intimidation, neglect/abandonment, mental anguish or financial exploitation.

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If signed into law, House Bill 24 would allow the Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Commission to increase awareness and improve education on elder abuse, improve policy, funding, and programming related to elder abuse, and identify ways to coordinate statewide efforts to address the issue.

The Ohio Elder Justice Act would also expand the list of persons required to report suspected elder abuse to include financial institutions, and it would give adult protective services the ability to seek protective orders regarding irreparable financial harm.

The bill is pending in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and we encourage those legislators to help move the effort forward.

Seniors deserve to live out their lives in comfort and without the fear of being hurt or taken advantage of by family members, health care providers or anyone else.