Unfortunately, people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia are at heightened risk for experiencing elder abuse — the intentional or negligent act by any person that causes serious harm to an older adult. In fact, as many as 62% of older adults with dementia experience psychological abuse, and as many as one-fourth have been physically abused. Yet, often the professionals — including police, firefighters, emergency personnel and more — who deal with elder abuse have little knowledge about working with people who have dementia.
To combat this shortfall, AIM worked with bipartisan Congressional leaders on the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act, which 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. These materials would be 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. Dementia-specific training materials for these professionals will improve the quality of their interactions with individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and will also help protect them from elder abuse. The legislation would also require DOJ to report annually on the dissemination and use of the materials to Congress.
The bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (S.3703/H.R. 6813), was introduced on May 12, 2020 by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Charles Grassley (R-IA) in the Senate, and Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Pete King (R-NY-2), Maxine Waters, (D-CA-43) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-4) in the House.
In December the bill was signed into law.
Enacted in 2010, the Elder Justice Act is a comprehensive elder abuse prevention law to address the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults at the federal level. The law authorized a variety of programs and initiatives to better coordinate federal responses to elder abuse, and is due to be reauthorized soon. This legislation will be an important complement to the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act. The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act will enhance and complement the reauthorization of the Elder Justice Act.