‘Say something’: AARP urges Alabamians to report elder abuse

AARP fears elder abuse is underreported and says everyone must keep an eye out.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 9:36 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 10:09 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers have been making the issue of elder abuse a greater priority in recent years.

“We’ve worked with the Legislature several years ago to really strengthen the laws around all types of elder abuse,” said Jamie Harding with AARP Alabama. “Things that used to be misdemeanors are now felonies.”

Now, House Bill 76 is headed to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. It would allow grandparents to be considered victims of domestic violence.

Last year, the governor signed “Shirley’s Law” into effect. It creates an elder abuse registry for nursing homes to vet potential staff members, making sure they do not have an abusive past. The law is named after Shirley Holcombe, a victim of elder abuse.

“The person whose mother the bill was named after is actually a member of our executive council. And so, yes, we were very much involved in getting that law passed,” said Harding

AARP Alabama has long advocated for laws that target abusers. The group says abuse is a broad term that can include physical, psychological or even financial harm.

AARP fears these crimes are underreported and says everyone must keep an eye out.

“It could be a family member. It could be a neighbor. It could be someone you go to church with,” said Harding.

The advocacy group urges the public to look for the following signs:

  • Physical injuries
  • Behavioral changes
  • Significant weight loss
  • Bills piling up
  • Bill collectors calling
  • Suspicious new “friends” who could be stealing

Anyone who notices these signs is asked to contact police.

“If you see something, say something,” said Harding.

People who notice these signs and have a loved one in an assisted living facility can also contact the Alabama Department of Senior Services for help at 334-242-5743.

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