TOPEKA – (June 15, 2021) – In observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today highlighted recent legislative efforts at the state and federal level to increase protections for the state’s seniors against abuse, neglect and exploitation.
At the state level, two initiatives Schmidt sought in 2021 became law. The first establishes Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) in the state’s judicial districts. The bill was proposed by the attorney general’s Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Prevention Advisory Council and passed both chambers of the Legislature by wide, bipartisan margins. The teams would include representatives from law enforcement, health care, social services, legal services, housing or adult care facilities, financial services, state agencies and other elder and dependent adult care stakeholders. The measure also allows for the Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Unit in the Office of the Attorney General to assist with any investigation or discussion of abuse with the MDTs.
The goal of MDTs is to produce better investigations that lead to more successful prosecutions. Elder and dependent adult cases are often complicated and involve multiple methods of abuse. They are also investigated by numerous state and local agencies. Communication among these agencies is often incomplete. The creation of MDTs will allow for better and more comprehensive communication among agencies as well as access to information from professionals in various disciplines such as finance, mental health, or medicine.
A second measure amends the law related to abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of adults. The changes increased the penalties for the crime of mistreatment of a dependent adult or elder person when the crime involves physical injury, unreasonable confinement or unreasonable punishment, as well as allowing for prosecution of crimes that occur in an adult care home.
“I appreciate the Legislature’s efforts to increase protections for older Kansans by enacting these two important measures this year,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also joined a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general in a letter to the U.S. Senate urging passage of H.R. 1215, known as the “Stop Senior Scams Act.” The measure, which has passed the U.S. House and has 21 sponsoring senators, would provide innovative ways to combat the financial exploitation of senior citizens.
“Senior citizens have worked hard to raise families, build our communities, contribute to our economies, establish a secure retirement and defend our nation in uniform. Soon they will make up nearly 20% of our population,” Schmidt said. “While seniors are a vital part of the fabric of Kansas, they are also among the most vulnerable to financial exploitation.”
Schmidt has prioritized combating elder abuse during his tenure as attorney general, in particular during his term as 2017-18 president of the National Association of Attorneys General. Schmidt’s national presidential initiative, titled “Protecting America’s Seniors: Attorneys General United Against Elder Abuse,” resulted in numerous conversations and trainings about how to build capacity to fight elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
To report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult in the community, telephone the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330 at DCF. If elder abuse, neglect or exploitation occurred in a nursing home, hospital, or by a home health agency, please call the elder abuse hotline at 1-800-842-0078 at KDHE. In the event of an emergency contact your local law enforcement or call 911.
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