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IA Readies Enforcement of New Elder Abuse Law

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022   

This Friday, Iowa's new elder abuse law goes into effect. Those who pushed for its passage hope victims are aware of the added protections and will speak up about their situation, and supporters said the law covers a lot of gaps in state statute dealing with elder abuse.

The changes include a new crime addressing financial exploitation of an older individual, and there are enhanced penalties for assault as well as theft, when a person is targeted because of their age.

Anthony Carroll, advocacy manager for AARP Iowa, said such crimes often go unreported. Not only do they want to prevent incidents, they also want to inspire action.

"If you live in a community, you're concerned that someone that may be abused or isolated," Carroll explained. "Really making sure that you're being that good neighbor and coming forward. "

Carroll pointed out the law strikes a good balance in establishing accountability, while still allowing older adults to seek services from financial institutions and donate to trusted fundraisers. In addition to law enforcement, Iowa's six Area Agencies on Aging offer guidance, and AARP Iowa put more details of the new law on its website.

Laura Kriegermeier, elder rights coordinator for Heritage Area Agency on Aging in eastern Iowa, said they often receive calls from people concerned about abuse. She added seniors being taken advantage of by a loved one often worry about getting them in trouble. She hopes the new law convinces them authorities need to step in.

"Just like it's wrong for someone to abuse a child or to take advantage of a child," Kriegermeier emphasized. "There's consequences ... people go to jail."

Kriegermeier added in past situations, victims were often limited to seeking justice in civil court but lacked the resources to see the process through. She pointed out the new law provides tools for others to push these cases forward, if the person feels comfortable filing a report.

"The potential for this, with it being criminal, there could be a lot more justice," Kriegermeier predicted.

Disclosure: AARP Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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