As the nation enters Older Americans Month, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) last week introduced legislation to support education, intervention and prevention of elder abuse.
The End Abuse in Later Life Act (H.R. 4979) reauthorizes a program in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that supports a comprehensive, community-driven, approach to elder abuse. The legislation will enhance existing direct services for older victims and increase the eligible partners who can participate in multidisciplinary training programs.
"Elder abuse is a growing epidemic and we know that the vast majority of elder abuse incidents are not reported," said Congresswoman Baldwin, who worked closely with the Wisconsin-based National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life in drafting the legislation.
"With 77 million baby boomers aging, dementia on the rise, and caregiver shortages looming, the growing crisis of elder abuse has significant implications for the health, well-being and economic security of millions of Americans. I am proud to work with advocates from Wisconsin to call attention to elder abuse and continue fighting on behalf of our most vulnerable seniors," Baldwin said.
Congresswoman Baldwin has long championed a targeted initiative to ending elder abuse through VAWA. When VAWA was reauthorized in 2002, she successfully advocated for separate funding for victims of elder abuse. Baldwin introduced the End Abuse in Later Life Act as Congress begins the 2012 VAWA reauthorization process.
"Congresswoman Baldwin introduced the original language to create the Abuse in Later Life program that supports training, collaboration and victim services for older victims," said Bonnie Brandl, Director of the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life. "Congresswoman Baldwin has been an amazing champion for older victims by supporting the Abuse in Later Life program," Brandl said.
"It is critical that the federal government allocate sufficient resources towards ending the widespread and growing epidemic of elder abuse," said Jewish Women International Executive Director Lori Weinstein. "Jewish Women International applauds Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for introducing a strong piece of legislation that will improve existing federal grant programs that prevent and address violence against women throughout their lifespan," Weinstein said.
The End Abuse in Later Life Act was included in the larger Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 4271) and the Senate's VAWA reauthorization measure (S. 1925) that passed the Senate in April. In the Senate, Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) authored the companion legislation, which has bipartisan support.
Baldwin's End Abuse in Later Life Act has not been included in the Republican-authored VAWA reauthorization bill (H.R. 4970), which is expected to be taken up in the House this month.