The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) was signed into law in October 2017. It is meant to combat elder abuse, which something legislation has been slow to reform, and improve responses to allegations of abuse.
The Act, which is estimated to cost $21 million dollars, will help provide resources and data statistics to improve elder abuse policies.
Additional resources allocated
An ongoing problem with policing elder abuse is the lack of resources. The new law helps allocate federal resources to the problem. The Department of Justice (DOJ) will be assigning an assistant U.S. Attorney to serve as an Elder Justice Coordinator (EJC) in every federal judicial district. There are 94 federal judicial districts in the U.S. The EJC will assist with federal prosecution of elder abuse cases, including fraud and email scams, neglect and financial exploitation.
Data sharing best practices
Currently, there is no single system for reporting elder abuse. The DOJ will be developing a best practices process for collecting and distributing data on elder abuse. For example, if the federal judicial district in Florida found a new form of elder abuse targeting seniors via email, they could share that information in a database to alert other districts of the new form of abuse. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services must also release data about cases they are investigating. Lastly, the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime will be responsible for providing Congress with statistics on elder abuse.
As seniors continue to live longer, the possibility for elder abuse will only increase. Family centered watchdog groups are happy the problem is being acknowledged but would like to see more progress. The new law is not perfect, but it is a start towards protecting elders from those who would target their vulnerabilities.