Approximately one in 10 seniors aged 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. For people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, the prevalence is much higher, with some estimates putting it at just over 50 percent.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation authored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to protect seniors with dementia from harm and exploitation. The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act would ensure that the Department of Justice’s elder abuse training materials take into account individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
“America’s seniors too often face abuse and exploitation. Preventing and responding to these crimes can be particularly challenging in cases involving Alzheimer’s and or other forms of dementia. I was honored to lead the recent effort to strengthen the Justice Department’s tools to combat elder abuse and I’m grateful that the Senate passed this important bill to equip law enforcement with critical training to better respond to cases involving Alzheimer’s and dementias,” Grassley said.
“As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, one of my top priorities is protecting our seniors against abuse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be increased risk for elder abuse, including elder financial exploitation. Our bipartisan bill would 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,” said Collins, a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.
“I am thrilled that the Senate has unanimously passed our bill, fully recognizing that we must address the fact that as the number of Americans struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia continues to grow, so does the potential for exploitation, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect. We must do more to provide the education caregivers, social service and health providers, law enforcement and others need to understand the unique 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,” Menendez said.
The legislation is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, Elder Justice Coalition, American Geriatrics Society, American Society on Aging, B’nai B’rith International, Gerontological Society of America, International Association for Indigenous Aging, Jewish Federations of North America, Justice in Aging, LEAD Coalition (Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease), National Adult Protective Services Association, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A), National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, and SAGE: Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders.
“On behalf of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s I want to thank Senators Collins, Menendez, and Grassley for their leadership on this critical bill,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer and Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) executive director. “The bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act will help protect our nation’s most vulnerable from abuse and lead to better outcomes for all people living with dementia.”
Specifically, the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act would:
- Require that the National Elder Justice Coordinator take into account people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias when creating or compiling elder abuse training materials;
- Instruct DOJ to consult with stakeholders, as appropriate, in developing these materials and to review and update existing materials; and
- Include information in DOJ’s annual report about where to access the publicly available training materials.
The bill builds on Grassley’s Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which became law in October 2017 and required DOJ to create training materials to help criminal justice, health care, and social services personnel assess and respond to elder abuse cases. It also aligns with the latest recommendations from the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which include disseminating information on abuse of those with dementia and educating law enforcement about interacting with these individuals.