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Older Americans Act: Title VII Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection

For nearly forty years, the Older Americans Act has expressed the nation's commitment to protecting vulnerable older Americans at risk.

When the Act was reauthorized in 1992, Congress created and funded a new Title VII, Chapter 3 for prevention of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Title VII Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection also includes provisions for long term care ombudsman programs and state legal assistance development.

In the most recent amendments of 2000, Congress called on states to foster greater coordination with law enforcement and the courts. As the years have gone by, Title VII Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection has proven instrumental in promoting public education and interagency coordination to address elder abuse.

Title VII is designed to serve as an advocacy tool. In 2001, ombudsmen investigated 264,269 thousand complaints against nursing homes and other adult care facilities.

In the area of legal rights, Title VII includes a provision for a legal assistance developer in each state to serve as a focal point at the highest state level for all aspects relating to legal services for the elderly. Since 1992, no funds have been appropriated for this chapter.

Since the early 1990s elder abuse prevention funding has remained relatively constant at slightly over $5 million. Funds are divided on the basis of the 60 and older population of each state.

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