Colorado bill to stop elder abuse passes first vote

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The State of Colorado is one step closer towards legislation protecting the elderly from abuse. Senate Bill 13-111 would require certain individuals to report any suspected elder abuse within 24 hours. The bill passed its first senate committee vote Wednesday.

It requires caregivers, physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and bank personnel to report suspected abuse to a law enforcement agency within 24 hours or face a class three misdemeanor, punishable with a $750 fine or up to six months in jail.

The bill defines abuse as bodily injury, confinement, sexual conduct and caretaker neglect.

Cathy Story, Director of The Commons of Hilltop, said the bill would lead more people to recognize the signs of abuse and report it.

"This bill will really engage other people who work on the fringe, social workers and anyone who has to work with elderly," Story said. "We can't protect our elders enough. They are an at-risk population and sometimes easy prey for people who are unscrupulous."

The bill states the state's elderly population, those 70 years and older, is steadily increasing and is expected to increase by 28 percent over the next five years, and 42 percent over the next 20 years.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the bill next before it can be voted on by the full Senate.

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