WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who has fought for patients and families suffering with Alzheimer’s his entire career, along with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today introduced the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer's Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act to help protect seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia from fraud and abuse. Companion legislation is being introduced in the House by Representatives by Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA). The legislation directs the U.S. Department of Justice to develop best practices for assisting professionals – law enforcement, firefighters, emergency personnel, social workers, court officials, and medical professionals – who encounter and support people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
This population is particularly vulnerable to scams as their condition makes it more difficult for them to communicate potential crimes to law enforcement or to seek life-saving assistance from first responders. Particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic, having best practices will help first responders and other professionals effectively interact with people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia targeted by fraud and in need.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we’ve seen a huge increase in fraudsters taking advantage of the fear and confusion surrounding the virus to prey upon Americans, especially vulnerable seniors like those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Senator Menendez, who lost his mother to Alzheimer’s. “The fact is, as the number of Americans struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia continues to grow, so does the potential for financial exploitation, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect. We introduced this bill because we need to do more to provide the education caregivers, social workers, law enforcement, first responders and health professionals need to fully understand how best to respond to and protect seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia from fraud and abuse, and ensure they can live with dignity.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, one of my top priorities is protecting our seniors against abuse,” said Senator Collins. “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.”
“The current public health crisis has given seniors and caregivers across the country enough to worry about. The additional risks of scams, abuse and exploitation ought to be something the federal government can help address. This bill will provide resources and information to the professionals dealing with these risks. And it will require the Justice Department to track these incidents so we can prevent them in the future,” Senator Grassley said.
The bill has been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) as well as the bipartisan, 3,000 member Elder Justice Coalition.
“On behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), I’d like to thank Sens. Collins, Menendez, and Grassley for their leadership in introducing the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “This important legislation will not only help protect the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia from elder abuse, it will also help improve the quality of interactions with the professionals seeking to support them."
EJC National Coordinator Bob Blancato added, “Elder abuse committed against a person with Alzheimer’s disease is a compound tragedy. It is critical we provide the necessary training materials to anyone who responds, investigates or prosecutes such cases which this bill will do. We also support the provisions calling on the Department of Justice to consult with all relevant stakeholders to make sure these training materials are the most appropriate they can be. This is both sensible and sensitive legislation and we commend Senator Collins for taking such a strong lead by authoring this bill.”