Governor Signs Bill to Protect Georgia’s Elderly

ATLANTA (May 3, 2013) – Governor Nathan Deal signed into law legislation that was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford) to expand penalties for individuals engaged in the sexual or financial exploitation of the elderly.

“I commend Governor Nathan Deal for signing House Bill 78 into law today,” said Sen. Unterman. “This legislation represents another step forward in strengthening Georgia’s elder abuse laws and is important to protecting Georgia’s rapidly growing aging population.

“Georgia seniors are becoming increasingly at risk for financial, emotional and sexual abuse and exploitation. Realizing this, I presented a bill while still in the House of Representative to curb this growing epidemic over a decade ago. Working with elderly advocates and professionals throughout the state, we were able to pass meaningful legislation aimed at establishing stronger penalties for elder abuse. Today we’ve signed into law a continuation of this effort and I’m extremely pleased by everyone who worked so hard to make this a reality.”

As a result of House Bill 78, it is now a felony to commit a crime against the elderly, including inflicting physical pain or injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement or deprivation of essential services

House Bill 78 requires the following individuals to report any abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled adult or elder person:

–         Any person required to report child abuse

–         Physical therapists

–         Occupational therapists

–         Day-care personnel

–         Coroners

–         Medical Examiners

–         Emergency medical services personnel

–         Certified emergency medical technicians, cardiac technicians, paramedics, or first responders

–         Employees of a public or private agency engages in professional health related services to elder persons or disabled adults

–         Clergy members

According to a report released by the Georgia Department of Human Services, one in six adults over the age of 65 have been victims of financial crime. In addition, for every one case of elder abuse that is brought to the attention of law enforcement officials, another 23 cases are never reported.

House Bill 78 will further expand coverage to serve individuals aged 65 and older, disabled persons aged 18 years of age and older, and residents of long-term care facilities.

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist