The Iowa House and Senate have passed legislation that, for the first time, puts a definition of elder abuse in Iowa law. Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, a Democrat from Cresco, helped guide the bill through the Iowa General Assembly.
“It creates a process to obtain a civil protective order for a vulnerable elder who has suffered or is likely to suffer abuse,” Wilhelm says. “Most Iowans don’t realize there is no process in current law for this.”
An earlier version of the bill had created a new crime in Iowa — the “financial exploitation of an older individual” — but that was taken out of the final draft. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, hopes legislators revisit that issue next year.
“I do think that’s an important piece of us to do, to put some real teeth into stopping elder abuse,” Baltimore says.
The bill calls upon four state agencies and the state’s attorney general to “collaborate” and come up with a list of recommendations on how to strengthen Iowa’s “elder abuse prevention, detection and intervention efforts.” That report is due August 15 of this year. AARP issued a written statement, applauding legislators for the “bipartisan work” on the issue.