In celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, just three days ago, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators call on Congress to fight elder abuse.
According to the Washington, DC-based National Council on Aging, approximately one in 10 Americans age 60 years old or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Additionally, according to the Government Accountability Office, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually; however, this number is likely higher as many of these cases are never reported because the victim is too often ashamed to report abuse, particularly when it involves a family member.
On June 15, reaching across the aisle, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act. This bipartisan bill would give U.S. Postal Service customers the opportunity of purchasing a semi postal—or fundraising—stamp that would benefit efforts to raise awareness about elder abuse and support efforts to protect seniors.
“Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected or financially exploited,” said Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, in a statement announcing the introduction of the bill. “Preventing and combating elder abuse is one of my highest priorities. In order to protect seniors, law enforcement, social service agencies, the private sector and nonprofits must work collaboratively. The Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act would help the federal government equip communities with the skills and resources they need to stem the tide of abuse,” says Collins.
“Elder abuse is a serious issue that has devastating and far-reaching consequences for our communities,” says Senator Rosen, noting that the bipartisan bill would assist funding efforts to stop elder abuse, which would help give our seniors the peace of mind and safety they deserve. I will continue to support legislation that prioritizes the interests of our seniors.”
“Aging Americans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Senator McSally. “This will allow all Americans to support our aging communities by purchasing a stamp to combat elder abuse,” says the Senator from Arizona.
Elder Abuse: A Serious Policy Issue
Senator Klobuchar states, “As the population of seniors in the U.S. continues to grow, the need for strong protection from abuse of our elders becomes more critical each year. Vulnerable seniors can be victimized, even by the people who are supposed to be caring for them, and Congress has a duty to stop it. This bipartisan legislation will fund efforts to crack down on elder abuse and help to give all Americans safety and dignity in their golden years.”
According to the Senate Aging Committee statement, the proceeds from this stamp would go to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration on Community Living (ACL) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This additional funding for the ACL would be used to further support the development and advancement of emerging practices to prevent and respond to the abuse of older adults. Funding for the DOJ would go toward improving prosecution, data collection, litigation support, and prevention of elder abuse initiatives, she says.
Bob Blancato, National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition a national advocacy group supporting Elder Justice in American, notes that the bills introduction takes place as advocates and concerned citizens hold events to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day across the nation. Blancato calls on Congress to quickly pass this so that the Postal Service can begin its work to create the semi postal stamp that can help fund our fight against elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.”
The Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act is endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Sheriff’s Association and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.