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CSHCR 3(HSS): Relating to promoting the safety and protection of older Alaskans.

00              CS FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3(HSS)                                                              
01 Relating to promoting the safety and protection of older Alaskans.                                                      
02 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                               
03       WHEREAS, as valued residents of the state who enrich our communities and                                      
04 personal lives, older Alaskans deserve to live in a safe and dignified manner, enjoying as                              
05 much independence as possible; and                                                                                      
06       WHEREAS the interests of the state are served by decreasing risks of older Alaskans                             
07 suffering from neglect, physical or emotional abuse, abandonment, financial exploitation, and                           
08 of harming themselves; and                                                                                              
09       WHEREAS it is estimated that 52,263 Alaskans, or 7.5 percent of the population of                               
10 the state, are 65 years of age or older; and                                                                            
11       WHEREAS the number of older Alaskans is increasing, as "baby boomers" born                                      
12 between 1946 and 1964 reach traditional retirement age, highlighting the need for expanded                              
13 protections for older Alaskans; and                                                                                     
14       WHEREAS older Alaskans who are isolated, particularly those with Alzheimer's                                    
15 disease and related dementia and other complex health needs, may be targets of abuse; and                               
16       WHEREAS elder abuse perpetrated by family members, friends, caregivers, and                                     
01 opportunistic strangers occurs in families and communities across the state without regard to                           
02 socioeconomic, cultural, racial, and ethnic distinctions; and                                                           
03       WHEREAS the devastating problem of elder abuse often goes unreported because                                    
04 victims fear shame and isolation will result from reporting abuse; and                                                  
05       WHEREAS an estimated 11 percent of people living in the United States who are 60                                
06 years of age or older suffer from some form of abuse; and                                                               
07       WHEREAS elder abuse in the state is increasing at an alarming rate; and                                         
08       WHEREAS state agencies, including adult protective services in the Department of                                
09 Health and Social Services, the office of the long-term care ombudsman in the Department of                             
10 Revenue, and the office of elder fraud and assistance in the Department of Administration, as                           
11 well as services provided by the Department of Public Safety are devoted to the protection of                           
12 older Alaskans; and                                                                                                     
13       WHEREAS the number of reports of harm filed with adult protective services has                                  
14 risen by 169 percent in the past four years; and                                                                        
15       WHEREAS the most common allegations contained in reports of harm filed with                                     
16 adult protective services were related to self-neglect and financial exploitation; and                                  
17       WHEREAS the number of reports of harm filed with the office of the long-term care                               
18 ombudsman has risen by 200 percent in the past three years; and                                                         
19       WHEREAS the most common allegations contained in reports of harm filed with the                                 
20 office of the long-term care ombudsman were related to abuse and gross neglect in assisted                              
21 living facilities; and                                                                                                  
22       WHEREAS the protection of older Alaskans is a societal responsibility that requires                             
23 families, communities, and agencies across the state to work together to help reduce and                                
24 prevent abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation;                                                        
25       BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature                                                                
26            (1)  recognizes the need to protect vulnerable older Alaskans from any act that                              
27 harms or jeopardizes an older Alaskan's health or welfare;                                                              
28            (2)  recognizes that family and community can provide an essential source of                                 
29 security and well-being for vulnerable older Alaskans;                                                                  
30            (3)  supports the governor's efforts to improve safety for older Alaskans                                    
31 through state agencies, including adult protective services, the office of the long-term care                           
01 ombudsman, the office of elder fraud and assistance, the services of the Department of Public                           
02 Safety, and the Medicaid fraud control unit in the office of the attorney general;                                      
03            (4)  encourages the Department of Health and Social Services and the office of                               
04 the long-term care ombudsman to promote public education and awareness to increase public                               
05 recognition and reporting of elder abuse;                                                                               
06            (5)  supports efforts by the Department of Health and Social Services to                                     
07 provide family services that enable independent living;                                                                 
08            (6)  supports efforts by the Department of Health and Social Services to                                     
09 improve interagency coordination of first responders and service providers through ongoing                              
10 communication and planning; and                                                                                         
11            (7)  supports efficient prevention and early intervention services provided by                               
12 senior nutrition and outreach programs, volunteer long-term care ombudsmen, adult                                       
13 protective services, and aging and disability resource centers, which reduce the incidence of                           
14 harm to older Alaskans.