Senate Passes Legislation To Protect Elderly And Disabled

Martin J. Golden

April 19, 2005

The New York State Senate today passed two bills (S.1826, S.1827), sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), that would protect the elderly and disabled by making it a crime to abandon the care of these vulnerable individuals or to financially exploit them.

"The two bills passed by the Senate today will offer a safe ground for all elderly and disabled persons in New York," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "As time passes and people live longer than ever before, it is vitally important to change with the times by addressing the problems associated with aging. Today, the Senate has taken the steps to ensure that our judicial system has the tools they need to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society and prosecute those who violate the rights of the elderly and disabled."

Senator Marty Golden, Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee stated, "As New York State's aging population continues to grow at record rates, we must adopt legislation that sets protection in place against financial exploitation and criminal neglect of the elderly and the disabled. It is too painful to sit by and watch as our elderly are being taken advantage of day in and day out. We must stand firm and bring an end to this criminal behavior."

For the elderly or disabled who are in a non-institutionalized environment, the criminal neglect bill would protect them from abuse from their personal caregiver. If enacted into law, the bill would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly neglect or abandon an elderly or disabled person in a way that would threaten the life or health of that person. It is estimated that each year, one out of every 20 older Americans is abused in some form.

Each day 6,000 people turn 65 years of age. Currently in New York, there are more people over age 60 than children under age 10.

As New York’s senior population has increased, so have the incidents of financial exploitation of the elderly. In most cases, a family member, close friend, or caretaker who becomes a person in a position of trust signs onto the bank account or other financial document as a joint owner. This enables the trusted person to conduct basic transactions such as withdrawals and transfers in what is not always the best interest of the senior. This bill would make the financial exploitation of the elderly a crime by such perpetrators.

The bills were sent to the Assembly