Legislation provides help for dementia patients, abuse victims

| Feb 22, 2021 | Elder Abuse

Older adults who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are tragically at an increased risk of being abused.

To better serve this vulnerable population, lawmakers have passed a law that will provide better training and education for the people who can help these adults.

Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act

Congress signed the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act into law at the end of 2020. Lawmakers designed this measure specifically to help the professionals who work with elderly dementia patients to improve interactions and prevent abuse.

According to the legislation, the Department of Justice will create, use and disseminate training materials the help people interact with victims of abuse who also have dementia.

Lawmakers expect the materials to be especially helpful to professionals, including:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Prosecutors
  • Judges
  • Emergency personnel

These individuals are among those who often have interactions with abuse victims and may not have the proper knowledge or training to help victims who also have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. With better training, there could be a more robust response to protecting these at-risk individuals.

Why they are targeted

People with these conditions can be forgetful and easily confused. They may not know who they can trust or recognize the faces of people who have hurt them.

Because of these impairments, abusers target them knowing they may not be able to recall or report financial, physical, psychological or sexual abuse.

However, when the people in a position to see or respond to abuse understand more about how to interact meaningfully with dementia patients, they can have the tools to help victims and get them out of a dangerous situation.

Other ways to help

If your parent or another loved one has dementia, memory loss or other similar conditions, you can help protect them, as well. You can make sure they have legal protections in place to prevent themselves or other parties from misusing finances, as well as someone to manage their personal affairs and medical care.

You can also make every effort to stay involved in their lives. Regular visits and phone calls can help you keep an eye on their health and call out suspicious behaviors before they cause too much damage.