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State Safe Senior Act To Help Elderly, Vulnerable Citizens

This information is provided by 28th District State Sen. and Doctor Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald. His district includes Giles and five other counties.

Most laws enacted by the General Assembly have July 1, Jan. 1 enactment dates or become law upon the governor’s signature.

Occasionally, another date is set by legislation and that is the case with an important law passed this year to protect elderly and vulnerable Tennesseans.

The Safe Seniors Act of 2021, which will go into effect on October 1, was passed to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in taking dangerous individuals who abuse elderly and vulnerable adults off the streets. It also assists judges in making sure that sentences available upon conviction reflect the severity of the crime.

This new law also helps clean up state statutes and make needed changes to protect some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens. Provisions in the new law include:

• Making the process easier to take an elderly adult’s deposition;

• Making certain that adult protective services can make disclosures to prosecutors;

• Allowing aggravated elder abuse to be considered as an underlying offense for felony murder if the elderly adult dies;

• Expanding the definition of financial exploitation to include those situations where a caregiver takes the victim’s money for their own benefit without consent; and

• Changing the definition of physical harm to mean causing pain or injury, or that would cause a reasonable person to suffer pain.

Our General Assembly also passed legislation that requires a petition for appointing a conservator to include a search of the Department of Health’s registry of persons who have abused, neglected, or misappropriated the property of vulnerable persons. It also requires a search of the National Sex Offender Registry.

This will help judges make more informed decisions and potentially prevent those with nefarious intentions from becoming conservators. This new law will be effective on Jan. 1, 2022.

Over the past five years, the General Assembly has overhauled Tennessee’s elderly abuse laws. Some laws include:

• Legislation increasing penalties for the most dangerous crimes involving elder abuse;

• Legislation to protect Tennessee’s elderly from being victimized financially by scammers;

• Legislation making Tennessee’s laws pertaining elder abuse easier for law enforcement to recognize and prosecute;

• Legislation combatting abuse and financial exploitation of Tennesseans who are elderly or have diminished capacity;

• Legislation giving financial institutions greater tools to protect their customers when there is a reason to suspect financial exploitation; and

• Legislation that defined and created the offense of financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults, including the use of deception, intimidation, undue influence, force, or threat of force to obtain or exert unauthorized control over an elderly or vulnerable adult’s property with intent to deprive them of it.

" It is hard to fathom how a person could take advantage of those who are vulnerable," Hensley said.

" I was happy to support this legislation and pleased that the two new laws passed this year will be enacted soon."

Hensley may be reached at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N, Suite 742, Nashville, Tenn., 37243; or called at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366, extension 13100, or faxed at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, Tenn., 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, cell phone is 931-212-8823 and e-mail is sen.

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This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Marshall, Maury and part of Williamson counties. On Capitol Hill, Senat


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