Light on the Horizon for the Battle Against Elder Abuse

The world wasn’t paying much attention to a clause buried in the health care reform bill signed recently. If it comes to pass it will make a difference in elder abuse.

No one was really reading the whole thing, as the health care reform bill is massive and in language only a lawyer could interpret. Many think that this is the beginning of the end of health care as we know it in the US. Some hail the coming changes as the only way to kick-start reform. “Thanks to the single-minded focus on the health care aspects of the bill, not many caught something that would mean elder abuse may be stopped in its tracks,” said Deborah Barron, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer of the Barron Law Office in California.

There is a section in this bill that is widely thought to be one of the most comprehensive federal efforts to fight elder neglect, exploitation and abuse. This is a concept whose time has come, insistently and urgently. “Included in the legislation is something people have demanded for years – the Elder Justice Act. It sets aside hundreds of millions of ‘federal’ dollars to battle elder abuse. It has a companion act – the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act – that is aimed at those in long-term care,” indicated Barron.

It’s virtually a no-brainer to state that elder abuse is a horrendous and hugely significant problem. While there have been efforts made on the local level to deal with this crime, there hasn’t been much of a response on the federal level, until now. “It’s hoped these two bills will have the impact needed to put a stop to this unthinkable abuse,” added Barron.

Abuse is rampant these days and with the next wave of baby boomers about to hit the system, if something isn’t done right now, the problem will be totally out of control. No one deserves the kind of abuse being dished out in private homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities. From chemical restraints to withholding pain medications, and from beatings to isolation, elder abuse is a special kind of nasty that has no place in our society.

It’s a well-known fact that abuse leads to serious mental and physical problems and destitute elderly people struggling to cope from day-to-day. “Sadly, studies have also shown that elder abuse victims have three times the risk of premature death. We have got to stop this in its tracks, as no one deserves to be abused. It’s completely unthinkable, unconscionable, unnecessary, unethical and illegal,” Barron commented.

The Elder Justice Act is set to trigger $400 million in new funds for Adult Protective Services and $100 million for state demonstration grants to test best practices. It also delivers $32.5 million over four years in grants to support the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, $40 million over four years for training, and creates an Elder Justice Coordinating Council to make recommendations to coordinate local, state, federal and private agencies.

“This Act has more things to offer to protect seniors and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air and long overdue. Let’s just get on with it and wake up to the fact that elder abuse will not be condoned in any way, shape or form,” stated Deborah Barron, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer of the Barron Law Office in California.

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