LANSING (WWJ) – A package of bills has been introduced in the state Senate aimed at stemming what is being described as a growing incidence of elder abuse in Michigan.

“Nearly 80,000 older Michigan citizens are victims of elder abuse, which can be either physical, emotional or financial harm. And, a lot of times it’s people who are caretakers of elders and also, it can happen in other institutions,” said Senator Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton.

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Schuitmaker is the leader of the bi-partisan group that introduced the legislation, which would stiffen the penalties for those convicted of fraud against senior citizens.

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“I had a case in my district where an unscrupulous home improvement entity took the older gentleman, who had no family, and bilked him of $100,000 of life savings doing certain home repairs,” Schuitmaker said.

Among the proposed changes is a law allowing seniors in a criminal proceeding to be able to testify by videotape or live feed, so as not to have to confront their alleged abuser in open court. “It’s important that we enhance the laws that we have and make new laws,” said Schuitmaker.

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The proposed legislation would also create the equivalent of an Amber Alert for missing seniors, to be dubbed the “Silver Alert”.