The state of Georgia has one of the strongest elder abuse laws in the country. Nonetheless, according to Kathy Floyd, the Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Aging, between 2008 and 2012 there was a 65% increase in reports of elder abuse in our state.
Partly as the result of a particularly horrific incidence of abuse at an elder care facility in Commerce, Georgia in 2013, lawmakers in this year's legislative session are seeking to make Georgia's law even stronger.
State representative Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, says House Bill 72 will build on the legislation passed in 2013 that protects the elderly and the disabled from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by providing additional resources to deal with abuse. There are loopholes in the law that legislators hope to close that would boost law enforcement tools in fighting these crimes.
Elder abuse often takes place at unlicensed nursing homes. There are some 300 unlicensed elderly care homes in Georgia. Operators of these facilities often move their residents around to avoid detection. The new legislation would help close these facilities and bring abusers to trial more quickly.
To recognize the signs of elder abuse and to learn what you can do about it, listen to my conversation with State Rep. Wendell Willard and Exec. Dir. Kathy Floyd of the Georgia Council on Aging: