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Michigan Senate Heralded For Elder Abuse Legislation

Contact: Lynne McCollum (517) 373-8230

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2011

LANSING, MI - The Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) applauds the state Senate for its near unanimous approval of landmark legislation protecting older, vulnerable people from physical and financial abuses. Under the unwavering leadership of Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton), a comprehensive 18-bill package on senior protections now heads to the Michigan House of Representatives for action.

The bills form a comprehensive set of reforms to strengthen Michigan's ability to prevent elder abuse, intervene to assist older victims, and punish perpetrators. These reforms are critical for the protection of the estimated 80,000 older Michigan residents who are victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, and who are living in constant fear of the next time their lives will be threatened.

"No one should ever have to live this way, and these bills go a long way in making sure people don't ever have to," said Kari Sederburg, Director of the OSA.

Among the specific reforms:

  • Increased criminal penalties;
  • Special witness protection for vulnerable adults when testifying against their abuser;
  • Clearer definitions of abuse and exploitation in both social service and criminal statutes;
  • Required training of employees of financial institutions;
  • Increased reporting requirements for abuse in long term care facilities;
  • Improved coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Enhanced banking, annuity, and insurance protections for older adults.

"This legislative success comes after many years and tireless efforts by advocates of elder abuse reform, including the OSA," said Sederburg. "We are incredibly grateful for the actions taken by the Senate on this important issue. We urge equally swift passage in the House. With House support, all Michiganders can count on an early holiday present in the form of protections from devastating abuse."

Additional information on senior protections can be found in "the elder protection" Senate bills 457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777; the bills text and analyses are available at www.legislature.mi.gov. For more information, contact the OSA at (517) 373-8230 or visit www.michigan.gov/miseniors.

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