State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) today announced that the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation which would strengthen the laws protecting elders from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. House Bill 49, otherwise known as the “Ohio Elder Justice Act,” was supported by the representative.

The bill modifies the statutes of the adult protective services (APS) by adding definitions of “neglect,” “exploitation,” “financial harm,” and “home health agency.” Current law largely defines elder abuse as physical abuse, but this bill seeks to expand that description. It specifically focuses on including the financial exploitation of those citizens, which is an issue that often occurs behind closed doors.

The changes instituted by House Bill 49 would help protect the homes and life savings of senior citizens, which are both important facets of elders’ lives. Additionally, neglect would also be considered a form of abuse, helping protect not only the physical well-being of seniors, but the emotional as well.

"Our seniors are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and most importantly our loved ones," said Rep. Anielski. "I want all seniors to be safe and secure and free of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. The bill strengthens current laws in the protection of our seniors."

Furthermore, the bill extends the list of people who will be required to report any of the types of abuse outlined of a person 60 years of age or older to a county department of jobs and family services. It also authorizes the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to create a registry of reports of abuse made. Such a registry will help track patterns of elder abuse, which may help prevent further abusive instances from occurring.

House Bill 49 passed the Ohio House and will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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