The Joint Committee on Elder Affairs Holds Hearing on Health, Safety, and Training
(BOSTON) – The Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, chaired by Representative Thomas M. Stanley (D-Waltham) and Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), held a hearing on proposals to improve health, safety, and training across the continuum of care.
“The safety of our seniors is imperative. Today, our committee heard bills that will increase the safety and well-being of elders.” Rep. Stanley said “Ensuring that bad actors who commit abuse and take advantage of vulnerable people are held accountable is a top priority of the Elder Affairs Committee. We thank the advocates who testified on behalf of these important issues.”
“Turning 60, 70, 80 or more does not mean we suddenly become frail, disabled or incompetent, but it can mean we are targeted for financial scams, physical abuse, and other threats to our health and wellbeing.” Sen. Jehlen said. “I am pleased to know there are a number of bills that could help protect so many older adults across the state.”
“Ensuring the health and safety of our seniors is paramount,” Vice Chair Kate Lipper-Garabedian said. “Today’s hearing was an opportunity to discuss legislation aimed at improving their physical, psychological, and financial well-being. Our agenda included a bill I filed with Chair Stanley to support seniors’ financial literacy and stability, inspired by the lived experience of my own constituent. The legislation directs the Treasurer to develop a model financial planning curriculum, aimed at supporting seniors in mapping out their futures and simultaneously reducing the likelihood of elder financial abuse, an issue we explored in today’s hearing.”
H613: An Act increasing the penalties for unfair and deceptive actions perpetrated against persons with disabilities and senior citizens would establish the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Abuse Prevention Fund to educate seniors and disabled persons about deceptive investment and marketing practices, and consumer protection laws. The bill would also increase the civil penalties for perpetrators.
H622/S396: An Act to establish the Office of Elder Advocate. The Office of the Elder Advocate will ensure that older adults and people with disabilities receive timely, safe, and effective services and that said individuals will always receive humane and dignified treatment. Additionally, the new office will examine the state agencies that provide services on a system-wide basis and advise the public and multiple levels of state government on improving the services for said individuals.
H629/S383: An Act to improve Alzheimer’s’ and dementia care in senior care options programs requires for all Massachusetts Senior Care Options (SCO) plans to provide Dementia Care Coordination (DCC) to SCO members that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
H632: An Act establishing a commission to study the financial abuse of elders. The commission will study (1) the economic impact and mechanisms of financial abuse on those over age 60 in the Commonwealth; (2) the lending and refinancing practices of companies who target customers above the age of 60; (3) exploitative transfers of real estate or other valuable property from dependent elders to
fiduciaries for significantly less than market value; (4) fraudulent or deceptive schemes that target elderly persons in the Commonwealth through telemarketing, the internet, or other means; and (5) any other form of elder financial abuse. The final report will include policy recommendations.
H638: An Act supporting Seniors’ financial stability mandates the office of the state treasurer to develop and periodically review and update model curriculum to support seniors’ financial literacy and stability. H644/S366: An Act protecting vulnerable elders from abuse seeks to close the gap in protective services for elders in vulnerable situations (prison, shelters, etc.). Currently, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs does not have jurisdiction over elders in non-traditional/custodial settings, meaning that elders experiencing abuse do not receive the support they need. This bill would ensure that elders in non-traditional settings receive protective services.
The June 12th hearing was Chaired by Rep. Stanley and Co-Chaired by Sen. Jehlen. A full recording of the event is available on malegislature.gov. The next hearing from the committee will be held on June 26th.