A group of bipartisan legislators led by state Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) reintroduced an eight-bill package, House Bills 4472-4479, to strengthen protections for Michigan’s senior population and address elder abuse. Representatives Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Township), Jim Ellison (D-Royal Oak) Diana Farrington (R-Utica), Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Township), Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield), Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) and Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills) have all sponsored a bill in this bipartisan legislative package.
“This package passed in the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last session because we all saw a great and growing need to protect our elders,” said Anthony. “COVID-19 has proved especially hard on Michigan’s senior community as elder adults have been increasingly isolated from outside support due to health and safety precautions. Elder adults are targeted at a high rate because criminals often associate advanced age with vulnerability. Passing this legislation would add much needed legal protections for elder adults and give prosecutors the tools they need to effectively combat serious acts of financial and physical abuse.”
The bills in this package would accomplish the following:
- Define an elder adult as an individual age 80 or older
- Establish criminal penalties for fraudulently obtaining or attempting to obtain an elder adult’s money or property
- Establish criminal penalties for assaulting or restraining an elder adult
- Amend the mental health code to reflect the definition of elder adult
- Amend the penal code of the public health code to reflect the definition of elder adult
- Amend the adult foster care licensing act to reflect the definition of elder adult
- Amend the vulnerable adult chapter of the penal code in the estates and protected individuals code to reflect the definition of elder adult
According to the MI Department of Health and Human Services Michigan State Plan on Aging, individuals age 85 and older continue to be the fastest growing population segment in our state. Census projections estimate there will be 2.7 million Michigan residents age 60 and older by 2030. About 100,000 elder Michiganders are abused each year and these incidents are largely underreported.
Last session, the bills received the formal support of a broad array of stakeholders, including groups in law enforcement, the elder justice, and legal communities. This bipartisan legislation would protect Michigan’s aging population and give prosecutors the tools they need to combat this significant problem.