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Yarmuth's ElderServe Act Passes House

Modeled on local success, nationwide initiative will coordinate, expand emergency services

(Washington, DC) Today, the House of Representatives approved the ElderServe Act as part of the Elder Abuse Victims Act.  Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced ElderServe legislation last May to expand Louisville’s ElderServe program into a nationwide network to protect seniors who have been subjected to physical or psychological abuse and neglect. 

“In Louisville, we’ve seen first hand the integral role this program can play in protecting seniors, and now we have the opportunity to replicate ElderServe’s success on a national scale,” Congressman Yarmuth said.  “For the two million annual victims of elder abuse and neglect, this could mean the difference between facing a crisis alone and getting the help necessary for a full recovery.”

Using the Louisville model, the bill will create Emergency Crisis Response Teams (ECRT) to foster community collaboration between existing services and consolidate care for elder abuse victims. The program has been incredibly effective in Louisville, bringing various entities together to immediately help elder abuse victims and provide a continuum of care. 

“We appreciate Congressman Yarmuth’s support of ElderServe’s work to protect seniors in Louisville, and are eager to work with him to expand the success of our Senior Crime Victims Assistance Program to other communities across the nation.  During this highly charged political season, it is especially gratifying to see members of both parties working together on this important national issue,” said Harriette Friedlander, Chief Executive Officer of ElderServe Inc.

“ElderServe ensures that when the elderly can’t go to the criminal justice system, the criminal justice system goes to the elderly,” said Colonel John Aubrey, Jefferson County Sheriff.  “We’re very proud of the coalition that has come together in Jefferson County on behalf of seniors—from the volunteers to the advocates to the local leaders and organizations, and we thank Congressman Yarmuth for recognizing the need for this coordination and taking the program nationwide.”

Yarmuth’s bill will create pilot programs that will be coordinate local law enforcement, short-term housing placements, bereavement services, adult protective services, legal advocacy services, job placement assistance, and healthcare.  Seniors frequently fall through the cracks or get caught up in red tape in cities and counties where this coordination does not yet exist.

Every year, over two million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological abuse, neglect, and exploitation, but experts estimate that only one in six cases is reported.  The elder abuse— which affects men and women across all racial, social class, and geographic lines— accounts for nearly 70 percent of the annual caseloads of Adult Protective Services.

Yarmuth made the below statement on the House Floor in support of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Elder Abuse Victims Act.  This legislation includes the ElderServe Act, which I introduced last May to protect our nation’s senior citizens from abuse through better coordination of services. 

The program is modeled after the highly successful method in which ElderServe Inc, in my hometown of Louisville, provides emergency services to seniors who experience abuse and neglect— problems that impact more than two million victims nationwide. 

The ElderServe Act creates Emergency Crisis Response Teams, or ECRT’s, that foster community collaboration and consolidation of existing services for elder abuse victims.  In most communities, seniors who suffer abuse have great difficulty navigating services and aid.  But in Louisville, ECRT’s have been incredibly successful in bringing various entities together to provide immediate help and services to elder abuse victims.  The approach ensures seniors no longer fall through the cracks and are given the housing, healthcare, and follow up they need.  For those who cannot go to law enforcement, law enforcement will come to them.

America’s seniors spent decades working toward retirement, and each day, thousands are assaulted or neglected, with nowhere to turn but an overwhelmed, under-coordinated system.  Far too many never get crucial assistance.  I therefore, urge my colleagues to join me in supporting Elder Abuse Victims Act so all seniors have access to the help they need.