Kohl pushes for stronger enforcement of elder abuse crimes

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Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has asked the U.S. Department of Justice for additional grant money to prevent elder abuse and strengthen penalties for those who commit such crimes.

In a letter to the Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime, Kohl asked the department to amend the Victims of Crime Act guidelines to include elder abuse on the list of priority areas when requesting funding for Victim Assistance Grants. He adds that the incidence of elder abuse is likely much higher than estimated because it is often underreported.

According to the Government Accountability Office, 14% of caregivers of seniors living outside of nursing homes and assisted living facilities commit crimes that include physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.

“Financial exploitation of seniors alone costs the nation an estimated $2.6 billion annually,” Kohl wrote in his letter. “The plight of vulnerable seniors must be a subject of great concern to us all.”

Kohl, who is the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced two pieces of legislation in March, the “End Abuse in Later Life Act” and the “Elder Abuse Victims Act.”