LANSING—Legislation that will help increase the reporting of elder abuse in Michigan and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abuse was unveiled at a press conference this morning, said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.
“There are tens of thousands of Michigan seniors who have been criminally abused yet their pain and suffering is rarely reported and has largely gone unnoticed,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “In many ways, the system has failed them and we are intent on fixing that.”
Elder abuse is a problem affecting nearly 80,000 senior citizens in Michigan, with many enduring unspeakable acts of physical, emotional and financial abuse. Schuitmaker said the measures introduced today seek to better protect the elderly and harshen penalties for abusers.
Schuitmaker sponsored Senate Bills 461, 464 and 466 in the package. SB 461 further protects those that are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians, while SBs 464 and 466 will increase coordination between state and local authorities by developing protocols for investigating vulnerable adult abuse, expediting the process.
Other bills in the package were sponsored by Sens. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek; Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; and Steve Bieda, D-Warren, who all spoke at the event.
Judy Sivak, president of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Kalamazoo, said reforming Michigan law to protect the elderly is vital.
“Legislation is needed to reinvent Michigan because the physical and financial abuse of older adults imposes significant social and economic costs to the state,” said Sivak. “We are here today for Older Michiganians Day, to celebrate and acknowledge the tremendous gifts that older adults give our state each and every day, but we are also here to be advocates for elder abuse legislation.”
Mary Ablan, executive director of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan, said. “It would be the best Christmas present to have the bills signed by Gov. Snyder this December. This is the year to end the abuse.”
Additional guests included Ron Tatro, director of Elder Abuse Prevention Services for Elder Law of Michigan; and Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague.
Senate Bills 454 – 468 were referred to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.
For video and photos from today’s press conference, and for more information on the legislation, please visit Schuitmaker’s website at www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com.