Tennessee Senate Bills 1192, 1230 and 1267 in the would help protect against physical, mental and financial abuse. They also aim to increase penalties for people who commit such crimes. The bills would add more criminal penalties for those found guilty of elderly abuse. They would also increase communication between government agencies to raise awareness of scams that target the elderly and ease restrictions on financial confidentiality laws, which permit family members to report problems.
The bills are from the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Task Force. The Tennessee Bankers Association noted that the new laws would also give financial institutions additional authority to act, if an employee thought that a customer was being taken advantage of financially.
“Bankers are often on the front lines. We see our customers being scammed and under current law, there isn’t really anything we can do,” said Tim Amos, Executive Vice President of the Tennessee Bankers Association. "To have a process to allow us to ask you to pause the transaction or wait until tomorrow or until you consult with family, is a pretty big step.”
The National Council on Aging reports that about 10% of Americans who are age 60 and older have experienced some type of elder abuse. The lawmakers in Tennessee found studies over the past 10 years showing that the reported cases of assault and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults has gone up by at least 20%. It is estimated that as many as one in 23 cases of elder abuse go unreported.
The 2010 census found that the portion of the U.S. population over age 65 is 13.4% of the total. The fastest growing segment includes those who are age 85 and older.
The elder abuse protection bills in Tennessee are expected to be sent to committees in the coming weeks. Lawmakers say they are confident the bills will receive overwhelming bipartisan support.
Reference: Nashville News Channel 5 (February 28, 2017) “New Legislation Targets Elder Abuse”