WASHINGTON, D.C., December 23, 2020 – The bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (S.3703/H.R. 6813), legislation championed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), was signed into law last night. This new law will require the Department of Justice (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 other dementia.
“People living with dementia are at heightened risk for experiencing elder abuse. But too often, the emergency personnel professionals who deal with elder abuse have little knowledge about working with people living with dementia,” said Robert Egge, AIM executive director and Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer. “This new law will better equip these professionals and lead to higher quality outcomes for first responders, individuals living with dementia and caregivers.”
As many as 62% of older adults living with dementia experience psychological abuse, and as many as one-fourth have been physically abused. This new law will mandate the development of dementia-specific training materials for these professionals which will improve the quality of their interactions with individuals living with dementia, and will also help protect them from elder abuse.
The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act was introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), in April.
“As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, one of my top priorities is protecting our seniors against abuse,” said Sen. Collins, a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be increased risk for elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. Our bipartisan bill will help to ensure that the frontline professionals who are leading the charge against elder abuse have the training needed to respond to cases where the victim or a witness has Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.”
“I watched my mother struggle and ultimately succumb to Alzheimer’s, and it pains me that a growing number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s and dementia are at risk of potential abuse, neglect and exploitation,” said Sen. Menendez. “I am thrilled that our legislation has now become law. With it, we can help ensure that those suffering with AD/ADRD are able to live with dignity in safe and healthy environments, while providing critical education and training to caregivers, health providers and law enforcement.”
“We ought to do all we can to ensure the Justice Department is well-prepared to respond to crimes involving Alzheimer’s patients and folks with other forms of dementia. These cases can be particularly challenging at each stage, from investigation to prosecution. This legislation will strengthen our collective response to these crimes, which are unfortunately all too common. I’m glad, with the bill now signed into law, that the government can now more effectively handle and address these problems,” Sen. Grassley said.
"I'm proud that Congress acted to bring some assurance to the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia and their families," Rep. Deutch said. "This Justice Department training program will help prepare first responders and other professionals in how to properly interact with this population. Whether a police officer is responding to an incident or mental health and medical professionals are treating patients, they will be better prepared with best practices for supporting people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia."
“Too many of our senior citizens, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, are at increased risk of falling victim to fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “I was proud to lead this bipartisan, bicameral effort to protect vulnerable members of our communities from exploitation by equipping first responders and caregivers with tools to prevent and respond to elder abuse. Thank you to President Trump for signing the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act into law and for his commitment to protecting our nation’s senior citizens.”
“We are grateful to the congressional leaders who introduced this essential bill which will bring about meaningful change, and to our advocates who worked tirelessly to grow bipartisan support so quickly,” said Egge.
The Alzheimer’s Association and AIM worked with the bill's sponsors on the development and activated our nationwide network of advocates to build bipartisan support for the bill. Following hundreds of virtual meetings with members of Congress to grow support, 28 senators and 79 representatives signed on to cosponsor the bill.
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.
Laura Cilmi, 202.638.8673, [email protected]