State capitol: Photo by Emily Metcalf
State capitol: Photo by Emily Metcalf

HONOLULU, HAWAII – A joint House and Senate Committee on Human Services will hold an informational briefing on elder abuse and financial exploitation on Thursday, October 27 at 1:00 p.m. at the Hawaii State Capitol, Conference Room 329.

The briefing will address consumer protection issues involving Hawaii’s seniors, including elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation, as well as the proposed HB1123, introduced during the 2011 legislative session, which would require a durable Power of Attorney (POA) to be signed by two witnesses not related to the POA and acknowledged by a notary public, an effort to defend seniors against financial exploitation by caregivers.

Rep. Kymberly Pine (District 43 – Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Puuloa) who helped author HB1123 stated, “We should also look into possibly ensuring that the second signer is someone experienced in elder financial exploitation and would know whether a person is being coerced or is in the proper state of mind to make financial decisions.”

The committee will also review the state’s ability to address the needs of the elderly and review recommendations for stronger policy and public responsibility to adequately address elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.  The briefing will cover policy to ensure quality long-term healthcare for the elderly with a focus on aging in place and community-based healthcare.

“Abusers often target elderly men and women who live alone and have family on the mainland or on other islands,” said Rep. Pine.  “The victim and his or her family may not even realize the crime is occurring until it’s too late.  Hawaii needs stronger safeguards, tougher penalties and education to protect our seniors from these perpetrators.”

“Our state is graying faster than any state in the union,” said Rep. John Mizuno, Committee Chair (District 30 – Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, Moanalua, Fort Shafter).  “Hawaii’s seniors have contributed to our communities for decades – it’s imperative that we now protect them and their families from this kind of suffering.”

According to the Executive Office on Aging, by the year 2020 one in four Hawaii residents will be age 60 or older.

Family caregivers, volunteer and private caregivers, case managers, case management agencies, community care homes (foster homes), and Adult Day Care Centers under the purview of the Department of Human Services (DHS) will present information of their role in the long-term healthcare continuum for the elderly in Hawaii and provide recommendations on improving healthcare and services for the elderly.

In addition to victims of elder abuse, many important organizations have been invited to participate in this briefing, including: State Department of Human Services, Adult Protective Services (DHS), Community Ties of America (DHS), State Executive Office on Aging, AARP, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Honolulu Police Department (HPD), Ohana Health Plan, Evercare Hawaii, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Adult Foster Homes/Care Homes under purview of DHS.  All case managers and case management agencies under DHS, other individuals or organizations related to caregivers, case managers, care home operators, and adult foster home operators.

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