The Michigan House today overwhelmingly approved state Rep. Kathy Crawford’s plan to better protect Michigan seniors from abuse.
Crawford, of Novi, said over 70,000 older adults in Michigan have experienced some form of abuse, but suspects the number is actually much higher due to instances being underreported.
Working as a professional in the field of aging for more than 30 years in Oakland County and being one of the founders of the Michigan Association of Senior Centers, Rep. Crawford became familiar with the issue of elder abuse and continues to address the problem as chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee.
Crawford’s measure is part of an eight-bill package to add legal protections for adults age 80 and older and increase criminal penalties for individuals who financially or physically abuse elder adults.
“As a former senior center director, I’ve heard countless stories underscoring the severity of elder abuse statewide and various ways individuals prey on vulnerable seniors,” Crawford said. “Victims of elder abuse often feel hopeless and alone in their struggle, and many times, abuse is overwhelmingly underreported. This issue is very real and it impacts many Oakland County families and those across Michigan. After a lot of hard work, our efforts to protect the state’s aging population is finally making headway.”
Under the legislation, assaulting a senior could result in up to 25 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines while embezzling could result in up to 20 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines, depending on the severity of the crime.
“This is about helping those in our communities who need it most,” Crawford said. “Here in Michigan, we’re sending a clear message to perpetrators of elder abuse that their reprehensible actions will be met with harsh consequences. Together, we are taking a stand to ensure our fellow seniors are better protected from all forms of abuse.”
The plan now moves to the Senate for consideration.