NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – State legislators will soon consider eight recommendations aimed at preventing elder abuse. The Elder Abuse Task Force submitted a final report on its findings to the General Assembly.

The task force was created by way of legislation from Senator Rusty Crowe (Johnson City) and Rep. Courtney Rogers after a 2013 Community Watchdog investigation into the state’s abuse problem.WEB EXTRA: EATF Final Combined Report (.pdf)

“Elder abuse, in whatever form, is simply unacceptable,” Senator Crowe indicated. “I applaud the work of the Task Force in reviewing the issues. Now, it is time to put their concepts into motion and make a difference in protecting our aging population from abuse.”

The team worked for over a year to come up with ideas on how to deal with elder abuse in Tennessee. The report makes eight recommendations, including changing state law to ultimately increase penalties related to elder abuse, pushing for more education and prevention, requiring background checks, efficiently analyzing and processing elder abuse cases; a final recommendation calls for the creation of a working group to develop a field guide for law enforcement focused specifically on the prevention and prosecution of elder abuse.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Jim Shulman, Chairman of the Task Force, said. “Elder abuse is a very serious matter that affects one of Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations.

In studying the issue, we found areas that will be addressed to create a more cohesive and effective system in combating elder abuse. We also found that the creation of multi-departmental teams seemed to be an effective way to better understand and deal with patterns of abuse in Tennessee. And, finally, we hopefully put in motion several steps that would help in the investigation and sentencing of people who harm our older citizens.”