We need laws to prevent elder abuse

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Editor:

Twenty-seven years ago when the Alabama Silver Haired Legislature was formed by the Alabama Legislature, the welfare and best interest of this age group was the main concern and focus.

What better way could this interest be represented today than by the passage of SB 312, introduced by Sen. Tammy Irons of Florence, and HB 467 which was introduced by Rep. Laura Hall of Huntsville.

Unfortunately, our legislature thought otherwise. Both these bills called for the creation of an Interagency Council for the Prevention of elder abuse which, according to reported cases, has been neglected for too long. The bills were introduced in the last legislative session, and looked good for passage up until the last legislative day.

Just how many seniors are neglected and abused each year, no one knows, but the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that between one and two million Americans, age 65 and older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depend for care and protection. For every one case of elder abuse that is reported to authorities, five more go unreported, the Center estimates.

The SB and HB called for an “Interagency Council for the Prevention of Elder Abuse” to be established, comprised of representatives of agencies and organizations that would have DIRECT knowledge and involvement with the problem.

ASHL members think the longer the State waits to address this important issue, the worse it will get.

Citizens of District 93 of all ages, would each of you take this opportunity to become involved in the civic process and write or call your representative and senator and urge them to stop ignoring the needs of Alabama’s senior citizens, and take a lead on getting these bills or similar ones passed – the longer the state waits to address this important issue, the worse it will get.

/s/ Irene D. Butler

Member of ASHL, District 93