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Sen. Ragan says new legislation will help seniors

The financial exploitation of elders is an increasingly common crime across the country. By strengthening Iowa’s laws, we can protect our seniors. I spoke with AARP members Roberta Van De Walker from Mason City and Debra Roberts from Hampton about new legislation to ensure the financial safety of senior citizens.
The financial exploitation of elders is an increasingly common crime across the country. By strengthening Iowa’s laws, we can protect our seniors. I spoke with AARP members Roberta Van De Walker from Mason City and Debra Roberts from Hampton about new legislation to ensure the financial safety of senior citizens.

DES MOINES – Senator Amanda Ragan said this week that thousands of older Americans are abused, neglected and exploited every year in the U.S., and many victims are particularly vulnerable, depending on others to help them with the most basic activities of daily living.

In 2001, Iowa implemented an Elder Abuse Initiative in 22 counties to focus on prevention, intervention, detection and reporting of elder abuse, Ragan explained. Between 2007 and 2011, the initiative received almost 12,000 referrals of potential elder abuse, 44 percent concerned financial exploitation.

“With the demonstrated need, we must strengthen efforts to help vulnerable seniors throughout the state,” Ragain said, pointing to three bills that she says will help the cause.

SF 2117 creates an Elder Abuse Resource & Referral Program to work with area agencies on aging to increase awareness of elder abuse and to provide help.

SF 2168 will specifically address financial exploitation of Iowa seniors, which often occurs at the hands of family members or caretakers. Many seniors give a “power of attorney” to someone they trust so that person can make financial decisions on their behalf, including managing their money, paying their bills and purchasing necessities.

Power of attorney is exercised responsibly among most Iowans. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence of unethical people who prey on vulnerable seniors, stealing from them and abusing their power. Based on recommendations of Iowa’s Elder Abuse Task Force, the Senate Judiciary Committee developed an “Iowa Uniform Power of Attorney Act” to address the problem. SF 2168 will help prevent and detect power of attorney abuse.

“Our seniors deserve respect and dignity. These are two steps toward protecting some of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens,” Ragan said.

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