Mar 31, 2022 - News

Iowa proposal gets tough on elder abuse

An illustration of a man in a wheelchair
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People who abuse the elderly would face possible prison time under a bill that unanimously passed the Iowa House last week.

Why it matters: This type of offense is often hidden or unreported, and costs billions of dollars annually to a growing segment of the population, according to research from the National Council on Aging.

Catch up fast: Iowa already has among the best elder abuse protections in the nation, according to an analysis published last year by personal finance site Wallethub.

Yes, but: The state's legislation doesn't include criminal provisions with consequences like mandatory sentencing requirements. And specific cases involving things like financial exploitation are sometimes outside the reach of the criminal system.

  • It's the biggest remaining legal gap in the state's elder protection system, AARP Iowa said in a February news release.

Zoom in: Assault and theft against a person 60 or older would come with enhanced penalties under the bill.

  • Financial exploitation would become a serious misdemeanor or felony.

What’s ahead: The bill is back before the Senate where it must pass again before it can make its way to the governor.

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