Alzheimer’s Association Applauds Bipartisan Leaders for Legislation to Prevent Elder Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2020 — The Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) are proud to support the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act. The effort is being led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in the Senate, and Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in the House. The bipartisan bill would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop training materials to assist professionals supporting victims of abuse living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

“As more people develop dementia, police, firefighters, emergency personnel, and social workers will increasingly encounter these vulnerable individuals, and working with them can be fundamentally different from working with other older victims of abuse or exploitation,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “The Alzheimer’s Association and AIM thank our bipartisan Congressional leaders for seeking to protect the more than 5 million Americans living with this disease by championing the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act.”

People living with dementia often have difficulty understanding or explaining situations; and their behaviors may be viewed by law enforcement as uncooperative, disruptive or combative. Furthermore, persons living with dementia may have difficulty assisting investigators or prosecutors due to their cognitive impairment. Yet professionals and staff throughout health care, social services, and criminal justice systems receive little or no training in the unique needs of individuals living with dementia. This new legislation would require the DOJ to develop materials designed to assist law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, medical personnel, victims services personnel, and others who encounter and support individuals living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be increased risk for elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. Investigating such cases often involves several challenges that may be exacerbated when the victims or witnesses have Alzheimer’s,” said Sen. Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee. “This bipartisan bill would help to ensure that criminal justice, health care, and social services personnel have the training needed to effectively respond to such cases and keep our seniors safe.”

"Scammers are taking advantage of fear and confusion during this public health crisis to trick people into giving up sensitive information," Rep. Deutch said. "For the five million seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, the risks are even greater. That’s why Congressman Reschenthaler and I are urging Congressional leaders to include important fraud protections for our loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in the next stimulus plan."

“As the number of Americans struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continues to grow, unfortunately, so does the potential for exploitation, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect. We need to do more to provide the education caregivers, social service and health providers, law enforcement and others need to fully recognize the cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms people with AD/ADRD may have, as well as the training necessary to ensure they are safe from abuse and can live with dignity,” said Sen. Menendez. 

“I’m proud to introduce the Elder Justice Improvement Act so we can better protect our nation’s seniors with Alzheimer’s from predatory scams and elder abuse,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The growing number of seniors suffering from dementia in our country are more vulnerable to elder abuse, including financial exploitation. This legislation will create and update tools for caregivers and law enforcement personnel to better combat elder abuse. I hope my colleagues will join me in better protecting our seniors.”

“Having dementia-specific training materials for professionals who interact with individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias would improve the quality of their interactions and also help protect those same individuals from elder abuse,” said Egge.

The Alzheimer’s Association and AIM are working with Congressional champions to have this bill included in the next COVID-19 economic relief package to ensure vulnerable populations are protected.


Alzheimer's Association®
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit alz.org.

Alzheimer's Impact Movement
The Alzheimer's Impact Movement (AIM) is a separately incorporated advocacy affiliate of the Alzheimer's Association. AIM works to develop and advance policies to overcome Alzheimer's disease through increased investment in research, enhanced care and improved support. For more information, visit alzimpact.org.

Contact:
Laura Cilmi, 202.638.8673, [email protected]