Senate introduces bills to protect seniors

LANSING — Legislation was introduced in the state Senate on Wednesday to stop elder abuse by imposing stricter guidelines and penalties for exploitation of Michigan’s vulnerable adults and seniors, said Sen. John Proos.

“This important, bipartisan reform is about increasing protections for Michigan seniors and giving law enforcement officials the tools necessary to keep our families safe, especially our most vulnerable members,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Elder abuse is often underreported or unnoticed, but it is estimated that roughly 80,000 elderly adults in Michigan fall victim each year to abuse, either physical, emotional, financial or through neglect.”

Senate Bills 454-468 would:

  • Increase coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Allow victims of alleged vulnerable adult abuse to give testimony via closed circuit television or a pre-recorded video;
  • Create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert;
  • Increase penalties for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult; and
  • Further protect those who are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians.

“As the baby boomers retire, our seniors are becoming a larger segment of our society, which unfortunately makes them a greater target for abuse and exploitation,” Proos said. “I co-sponsored this comprehensive reform package because this sort of crime is particularly deplorable. We must be doing all we can to protect our vulnerable seniors, including better coordination between authorities and harsher penalties so the punishment fits the crime.”

Senate Bills 454-468 have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration.