A new Act was passed in 2014 dealing with elder abuse.

elder care abuse act iowaThe new Act defines elder abuse as any of the following:

1. Physical injury to or injury which is at a variance with the history given of the injury or unreasonable confinement, unreasonable punishment, or assault of an vulnerable elder by a person.

2. The commission of a sexual offense under Chapter 709 or Section 726.2 with or against a vulnerable elder.

3. Neglect which is the deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, or physical or mental health care, or other care necessary to maintain a vulnerable elder’s life or health by a caretaker.

4. Financial exploitation. The bill defines financial exploitation to mean that if a person stands in position of trust or confidence with a vulnerable elder and knowingly and by undue influence, deception, coercion, fraud or extortion, obtains control over or otherwise uses or diverts the benefits, property, resources, belongings or assets of a vulnerable elder, such constitutes financial exploitation.

The Act establishes a series of protective orders which protect a vulnerable elder which includes protective orders to stop elder abuse. The original bill provided for criminal penalties and such penalties were removed from the final version of the bill which was passed. A Petition for Relief which is filed in the Iowa District Court may be filed by the vulnerable elder or a substitute petitioner. The Act requires that an initial hearing be held not less than 5 and not more than 15 days after the filing, and the Court may enter temporary orders to protect the vulnerable elder. The pertinent age for the definition of a vulnerable elder is age 60. The bill defines substitute petitioner to mean a family or household member, guardian, conservator, attorney-in-fact or guardian ad-litem for a vulnerable elder or other interested person.

The Act requires the Department of Aging, the Department of Human Services, Department of Inspections and Appeals, Department of Public Health and the Office of the Attorney General to collaborate and provide recommendations to strengthen Iowa’s elder abuse prevention, detection and intervention efforts. It is anticipated that the legislature will revisit the law next year after reviewing the recommendations.

by James D. Beatty