DENVER (CBS4) The number of Coloradans who are 70 years or older is expected to increase by 28-percent in the next five years. More and more that age group is being victimized physically and financially, sometimes by family and friends. Now Colorado has a law that requires elder abuse be reported.
“The new legislation sets up this process. It basically starts the framework in which we look at how we report abuse. It does identify the various professions that we expect to report this, we did add financial institutions,” said Colorado Representative Amy Stephens, District 19.
The new law requires that professionals who work with older residents report abuse or face criminal penalties. The professionals outlined in the legislation include doctors, dentists, hospital and long-term care personnel, chiropractors, bankers, and caretakers among others. Anyone who knows about abuse and doesn’t report it faces misdemeanor charges.
Also in the law more money for adult protective services to reduce caseload created by increased reporting, and a new database that will catalog the reports that come in.
“I think it’s a great start. I think as we take a look, it takes a few years, as you know, to get something like this up and running,” Stephens added.
District Attorneys welcome the new law. In the 1st Judicial District which covers Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, the District Attorney’s office has an elder abuse unit, attorneys who specialize in the dynamics of dealing with the senior population.
“It’s a vulnerable population, so it’s important to have experts in this area dedicated just to serving the seniors and that’s what our elder abuse unit does,” said Peter Weir, District Attorney in the 1st Judicial District.
The law outlines how police and prosecutors should approach and investigate a report of elder abuse.
“It’s going to really enhance our efforts to protect those individuals by having them report those instances to law enforcement,” Weir told CBS4.
You can find out more about Colorado’s Elder Abuse Reporting Law at the Jefferson County Safety Fair. Put on by the District Attorney’s office, the Safety Fair brings together nearly 90 different organizations and agencies offering demonstrations and information on a wide variety of health, safety and prevention issues. The Jefferson County Safety Fair is Saturday, August 24th from 9am to 1pm at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.