AG Nessel launches initiative to end elder abuse

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jun 14, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Attorney General Dana Nessel visited Grand Rapids on Friday as part of a statewide tour to fight elder abuse.

"It's important that these stories are told and it's important that the press covers it and it's important that we as government officials make the system better," said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

Bernstein is one of the many joining forces with Nessel to form an Elder Abuse Task Force to fix the emotional, physical and financial abuse an estimated 73,000 seniors a year across the state endure.

"We know what the problems are, people have known for a very long time what those issues are now we're going to be tackling those problems and actually solve them," Nessel said.

They plan to do so with a nine-point initiative that includes decreasing the patient to caretaker ratio, adopting the standard form for investigations, developing basic rights for families and ensuring banks report possible fraud.

Nessel’s stop in West Michigan comes the same day three women were charged with elder abuse.

"It's just more in line with the kind of work that we do and the Department of Attorney General to make certain that when people are in nursing homes and that they are at their most vulnerable that we ensure that they are being taken care of and if they're not the people are being held accountable," says Nessel.

But the task force does have a lot of work ahead of them.

A new national list of nursing homes with a "persistent record of poor care" was released this week that included 10 nursing homes in Michigan.

"It's going to be one of the things that we're looking at but there are so many things," Nessel said. "And what I think you'll see is a lot of the issues that we have in the state are going to be addressed and are going to be addressed right away."

Michigan has had task forces like these in 1998 and 2007, but Nessel says pushing new legislation on the issue and having support of the state’s Supreme Court will make a real difference.

"We have the right actors that are in place the can coordinate this effort to make certain these changes are really put into place," she said.

The Elder Abuse Task Force's listening tour continues June 21 in Traverse City.

People are urged to report signs or concerns of elder abuse to Nessel’s office.