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Kohl Blog: Protecting Older Americans

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day serves as a reminder that we must redouble our efforts to fight elder abuse.

Throughout the world today many people are focusing on a problem that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves: elder abuse. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day serves as a reminder that we must redouble our efforts.

Last year, 5,285 cases of suspected abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation involving older adults were reported in Wisconsin. Tragically, 22 incidents were related to a death, and a total of 357 incidents were considered life-threatening. Too often, these crimes are committed by people who take advantage of victims who are fragile and vulnerable, and they know that the chances of getting caught are slim.

As Chairman of the Aging Committee, I convened a hearing in 2011 featuring the legendary performer, Mickey Rooney, who bravely shared his personal story of abuse. Since that hearing, I am proud that the “End Abuse in Later Life Act,” which enhances direct services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who are 50 years or older, was recently included as part of the Senate-passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It is my hope that this landmark law will be swiftly considered in the House and signed into law before the end of the year.

I also applaud Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for announcing yesterday that $5.5 million would be made available for grants aimed at finding new ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. This new initiative, along with efforts to convene the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, will go a long way to protecting the rights of older people.

But, we all know there is much more work to be done. We must ensure that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies work collaboratively with state programs and other key players to combat elder abuse. To do so, I’ve introduced the “Elder Abuse Victims Act.”  The bill will establish a first ever, Office of Elder Justice within the Justice Department that will protect America’s seniors by strengthening law enforcement’s response to elder abuse. While no legislation can end all exploitation, we must do everything in our power to help those victims that come forward asking for help.

For those of us faced with important decisions about our country’s future every day, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day challenges us not to forget about the needs of those who may not be able to speak up for themselves. I hope you will join me in efforts to meet this challenge.

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Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 15, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Good one Steve, as usual. Is there no other repetitious department we can throw this responsibility on? Once again, a democrat wanting more government to take care of a problem that while it unfortunately exists, does not warrant additional bodies of government. If not, I suggest a department of retiring liberals.
St. Swithin June 15, 2012 at 11:38 PM
"Office of Elder Justice" - Is Justice aging, like the years? Will there be a little baby Justice coming along to replace the Elder Justice soon? Seriously, this is not needed. Abuse is abuse. If you want to beef up the Justice Department so they can catch more crooks then so be it, but don't create a whole new office. You could even earmark some money to go specifically towards nursing home inspections or some such, but the last thing the DoJ needs is another little branch on their org chart.
Randy1949 June 16, 2012 at 02:28 PM
With a large group of people entering their older and potentially ripe for abuse years, some of them with less in the way of financial resources to buffer their dependency, this will be useful. I have an elderly relative who has been victimized financially twice in the past year by non-family. There are laws against this kind of thing, but they are woefully inadequate. Just as there are laws against physical and sexual violence against people of any age.
Randy1949 June 16, 2012 at 02:32 PM
@J.B. Schmidt -- I don't think you understood Keith's point. Pensions made the elderly retiree an attractive marketing demographic. Their demise will reverse that trend. Market decimation of IRAs and 401Ks, plus the possible cuts to SSI and Medicare, will finish the job. Back to Grandma living in the spare room with little dignity, because she really will be a burden.
$$andSense June 21, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Allowing Kohl and Sensenbrenner to remain in office is also a form of elder abuse being exacted on the taxpayer. Ronnie Reagan, love or hate him, was already showing signs of dementia towards the end of his term.

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