In 2022, the Iowa House and Senate unanimously passed critical legislation (SF 522) that makes elder abuse its own crime for the first time in Iowa. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The law took effect July 1, 2022.
A Brief Overview of Iowa's New Elder Abuse Law
This new law creates criminal sanctions for elder abuse and helps fix the existing gap in Iowa law enforcement and financial institutions’ tools to stop and prevent it. Iowa previously criminalized the abuse of dependent adults with caretakers, but that left huge gaps in criminal protections for other older Iowans.
The most reported form of elder abuse is financial exploitation, although it often occurs with other forms of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Those who commit abuse can be strangers or, more commonly, trusted people such as family members.
The law establishes:
- New crime of elder abuse, including financial exploitation of an older individual, with penalties ranging from a serious misdemeanor to a felony.
- Enhanced penalties for assault of an older individual and for theft against an older individual when the older individual is targeted because of their age.
In instances where abuse is occurring, it is important to know where to turn for help and assistance. A key resource in the fight against elder abuse are the six Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) located around the state. These six regional AAAs exist to support older Iowans and their caregivers. Learn more about your local AAA below:
Region 1: Elderbridge Area Agency on Aging
Region 2: Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging
Region 3: Aging Resources of Central Iowa
Region 4: Heritage Area Agency on Aging
Region 5: Milestones Area Agency on Aging
Region 6: Connections Area Agency on Aging