By Michael P. Neufeld
Sacramento, CA – California’s 65-plus population is on the rise and several new laws are addressing that age group.
In fact. the state’s 65-plus population is expected to double from 4.5 million to 9 million in the next 20 years. As the state’s population ages the number of people suffering from some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease increases. With that in mind, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1047 (Elaine Alquist – D-Santa Clara) creating a Silver Alert program.
Basically, a Silver Alert will be issued — much like the current Amber Alert for missing children — when a person 65 or older, with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, is reported missing and believed to be in peril. Local law enforcement agencies will have the authority to request the California Highway Patrol to issue an electronic bulletin asking the public, other law enforcement agencies and news media to help find the individual.
Triggering a Silver Alert will usually happen when a senior citizen drives or wanders away from their residences or nursing facilities — a practice considered common place with people suffering from moderate to severe dementia.
The Silver Alert program — already in place in about 30 other states — will sunset at the beginning of 2016, acc0rding to the bill signed by the governor. However, if state officials determine Silver Alerts are useful legislators can vote to0 extend the measure.
OTHER SENIOR LEGISLATION
There are numerous other pieces of legislation addressing seniors. Here are a few of the new laws effective January 1, 2013:
A.B. 40 – Elder And Dependent Adult Abuse – Reporting (Mariko Yamada – D-Davis)
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act creates a number of procedures for the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of the abuse of elder and dependent adults. Under the new law, certain individuals (mandated reporters) are required to report known or suspected instances of elder or dependent adult abuse. Failure to report such acts is a misdemeanor offense.
A.B. 999 – Long-term Care Insurance (Mariko Yamada – D-Davis)
This law requires California long-term care insurance providers to clearly post on their company website and provide written notice at the time of solicitation that a specimen individual policy form or group master policy and insurance certificate form for each policy offered by the company upon request. Those materials must be provided within 15 calendar days of the request.
A.B. 1525 – Elder And Dependent Adult Abuse – Money Transmission Agent Training (Travis Allen – R-Sacramento and Luis Alejo – D-Salinas)
This legislation mandates specified money transmission licensees to provide, no later than April 1, 2013, and each year thereafter, training materials for each of their agents on recognizing elder 0r dependent adult financial abuse. The materials must also illustrate the appropriate response to suspected financial abuse in a transaction.
S.B. 345 – Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Lois Wolk – D-Vacaville)
This bill — which will become part of the Mello-Grandlund Older Californians Act — requires the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s office to submit an advocacy report to the legislature each year and others outlined in federal legislation. The office would also be mandated to perform specified duties relating to protecting the health, safety, welfare, and individual rights of long-term care facility residents. The bill also requires the office to maintain a website. It is currently available online at STATE LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN.
S.B. 1198 – Benefit Program For Homeless Senior Veterans (Ron Calderon – D-Montebello)
California’s Department of Veterans Affairs will be required to publicize data related to available benefits to qualified homeless veterans from a variety of state and federal agencies, including CalFresh. The legislation also requires veterans to be informed that they may be eligible to receive assistance from a county veterans service office in applying for benefits they may be eligible to receive.