Assembly committee green-lights legislation to protect elderly from abuse amidst pandemic

Senator Chang (R-Diamond Bar) announced today her proposal to ensure protection from elderly abuse received bipartisan support from the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The COVID-19 pandemic makes the dependent elderly population even more vulnerable to abuse as more people spend more of their day-to-day lives at home. SB 1123 will set forth important reforms so law enforcement agencies will have accurate and clear direction on responding, reporting, and investigating claims of abuse.

Even before COVID-19, seniors and dependent adults were more vulnerable and more susceptible to physical, emotional, and financial abuse than other populations. According to a study by the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in nine senior or dependent adults have experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

“The COVID pandemic and stay at home orders have sadly made already existing abusive relationships even worse, including domestic violence,” said Senator Chang. “Protecting public health is paramount and we can’t ignore these new and growing issues.”

Senator Chang will also be co-authoring SB 1141, which expands the definition of domestic violence to include isolation of victims, deprivation of basic needs and coercive control.

Unfortunately, California law lacks clear definitions of what constitutes physical, mental, and emotional abuse of the elderly. Without this clear direction, the legal protections and response from law enforcement to elderly abuse is inconsistent – leaving some abuse unchecked.

SB 1123 is sponsored by the Coalition for Elder & Disability Rights. In a letter of support they write, “In order to properly investigate abuse, it is imperative that law enforcement has easy access to a definition of what abuse is.”

Senate Bill 1123 now moves to the full Assembly for consideration.

Last month, Senator Chang also called on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to approve a comprehensive audit of the California Health and Human Services Agency as it relates to their oversight of Skilled Nursing Facilities where so many of California’s elderly get their health needs met. Nearly half of the state’s COVID related deaths are associated with nursing facilities.

This article was released by the Office of Senator Ling Ling Chang.