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What Is Pennsylvania Doing to Protect Seniors?

Legislation introduced by Rep. Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, to combat elder abused was approved by the Senate late last month and later signed by the governor.

Under Pennsylvania State Representative Kate Klunk’s (R-Hanover) bill, House Bill 1431, posting pictures of care dependent individuals without permission will be a third-degree misdemeanor. This offense will be punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500.

“This new law protects some of the most vulnerable people in our society – our senior citizens. This law is the direct result of numerous reports of senior citizens having their privacy violated by those who are supposed to be assisting them,” the legislator says. “There have unfortunately been several instances of demeaning photographs of senior citizens in compromising and unflattering situations posted to the internet by caregivers.”

“Act 49 makes this egregious act now a crime. It is my hope this law serves to deter anyone from posting such images and taking advantage of our senior citizens.”

The (Clearfield, PA) Progress’ recent article entitled “New Pennsylvania law aims to protect seniors from abuse” reports that now called Act 49 of 2021, Klunk’s bill was part of a package of four bills designed to protect seniors from scams, neglect, or being taken advantage of.

Another of the bills in the package amends the Health Care Facilities Act to let residents or a representative of a resident to place electronic monitoring devices in a room with appropriate notices and consent of the facility and other residents. HB 1429 amends Title 18 to give the Attorney General’s office concurrent jurisdiction to investigate individuals who use their position of trust to financially exploit seniors and care-dependent people.

Lastly, HB 1430 amends the Older Adult Protective Act to add a definition of financial exploitation and establishes a private right of action for certain financial crimes and adds a $100 fee to those proceedings to create a Senior Trust Fund at the Department of Aging.

“Over the past few years, there have been many well-documented instances of elder abuse through the posting of demeaning pictures of senior citizens on the internet,” Klunk said. “My House Bill 1431 seeks to end this horrific practice by making it a crime for care providers to take, post or share demeaning and humiliating images and videos of any care-dependent person, such as a senior citizen in a care facility.”

Frequent signs of abuse include isolation, weight loss, bruises or broken bones, increased confusion, unusual withdrawals from bank accounts and signing over a home to another individual.

Reference: The (Clearfield, PA) Progress (July 9, 2021) “New Pennsylvania law aims to protect seniors from abuse”

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