The Case That Prompted this Blog
November 20, 2012
Time for Iowa to Pass Elder Abuse Law
Nov 18, 2012
Press-Citizen Editorial Board
Johnson County’s incoming and returning state lawmakers will be gathering at 2 p.m. today in the Coralville Public Library for a public forum sponsored by the Johnson County Task Force on Aging.
Sure to come up in the discussion are some of the priorities set by the nonprofit organization, Older Iowans Legislature, for the next legislative session. Those priorities include:
• Elder abuse law: It’s frustrating that, as a state with a rapidly growing senior and elderly population, Iowa doesn’t already have a law devoted to elder abuse. There is a more general dependent abuse law that deals with cases of physical or sexual abuse, financial exploitation and denial of care. But especially during tough economic times, it’s unfortunately not surprising to hear that financial exploitation of the elderly is a growing crime.
Elder abuse — often by family members themselves — continues to be a growing problem, with incidents more often than not going unreported.
It’s time for the Legislature to establish an Iowa Elder Abuse Law that, at a minimum, defines elders as protected class and provides protections against physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial or material exploitation, abandonment, neglect and self neglect.
• Home and community-based services: Reimbursement rates for provides of services for medical assistance programs sometimes can lag behind inflation. It’s time for a bill to recalculate annually, at the start of each new fiscal year, the reimbursement for a provider of services under a medical assistance program home and community based services waiver for the elderly.
That will help keep provide a living and growing wage for the people helping to care for our aging population.
• Sex offenders and nursing homes: Last year, after a 95-year-old woman said she was assaulted by a fellow resident and convicted sex offender in a nursing home, Gov. Terry Branstad convened a task force that held closed-door meetings. A bill was proposed requiring notification when an offender moved into a facility. It didn’t pass.
This year the Legislature will have to discuss a bill that would require sex offenders and combative residents to be housed in appropriate settings capable of providing protective restraints, both chemical and physical, and provide the required supervision.
Other topics of discussion include:
• Requiring standardized benefits for long term care insurance policies.
• Ensuring that the state’s long-term care ombudsman has the independence necessary to serve as an effective watchdog of the long-term care industry.
• And discussing the consequences of last year’s redesign of the state’s mental health system from a county-based system to a region-based system.
All these issues, of course, are of particular importance in Iowa, which already ranks fifth in the nation in percentage of population age 65 and older and ranks second in percentage of population age 85 and older, and in Johnson County, which is seeing a steady increase in the number of recent retirees moving into the area.
And these issues are only going to grow more important as, over the next two decades, Iowa’s senior population is expected to make up close to one out of every four citizens. By 2030, one of out of every six Iowans will be older than 85. And by 2040, older Iowans could outnumber children and youth for the first time.
SOURCE: The Press Citizen
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