Michigan Continues Fight Against Elder Abuse

By: Nick Leydorf
estate planning and elder law attorney
Meet Nick Leydorf
My practice is dedicated to helping families get their affairs in order so that they can stay out of court and out of conflict. I’ve experienced first-hand how a lack of planning can have a terrible impact on a family. One morning, my wife received a phone call that her mother had been found unconscious in her bathroom and had been rushed to a local hospital. We panicked and drove to Grand Rapids as fast as we could to be with her. For two weeks, she never regained consciousness and she passed away. My wife and I were devastated.
A webform has been updated for Michigan residents to report suspected incidents of elder abuse, patient abuse and exploitation.

Federal law serves as a foundation of protection of older adults but most enforcement is by state law. The definition of elder abuse, protections, and penalties vary dramatically.

News Channel 3’s article entitled, “Michigan upgrades webform for reporting elder abuse, launches law enforcement training series,” reports on the progress of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force to ensure protections for elderly citizens. The updated Michigan webform form is designed for use by residents to report suspected incidents of elder abuse, patient abuse and exploitation.

The form includes sections to identify:

  • The person being abused or in need of assistance
  • The person alleged to be responsible for the abuse
  • If the abuse has been previously reported to other agencies and
  • Details of the abuse.

The complaints are then investigated by the Department’s Financial Crimes or Health Care Fraud Division, depending on the details of the allegation. Assistant Attorney General David Tanay leads this division and oversees the Department’s Sentinel Project, which was started in 2021. It uses specially trained staff to examine long-term care facilities for evidence of abuse or neglect through unannounced visits, which performance metrics, complaints and other data will determine.

The Sentinel Project Team recently met with county leaders to discuss how state and county law enforcement agencies can work together to better train and investigate allegations of elder abuse in long-term care facilities.

In addition, a series of proposed bills will help strengthen guardrails to protect the elderly. The legislation, House Bills 4909-4912 and 5047, will, among other things:

  • Require a judge to state why a family member who is willing to serve as a guardian is unsuitable
  • Require guardian and conservator certification and visitation frequency
  • Set standards for the Guardian ad Litem report to the court
  • Protect personal items of sentimental value from being discarded
  • Create a right to attorney throughout the proceedings
  • Create more protections for seniors before removing them from their homes
  • Improve the basic standard for medical testimony; and
  • Create an Office of State Guardian to oversee and certify guardians.

Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force began in 2019. It comprises more than 55 different organizations and more than 100 public, private and nonprofit individuals working together to combat elder abuse.

Michigan elder law attorneys, like Nick Leydorf, work with families to put certain protections into place to ensure elderly people have the services they need and the comforts they have earned. Like patient advocates, elder law attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of our most vulnerable citizens. If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused, use the online webform to report it. To protect your senior loved ones or yourself from abuse or to plan for other issues related to long-term care and security later in life, book a call with Lansing Attorney Nick Leydorf to discuss how to legally establish these securities.

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