Lawmakers approved several bills this session to provide additional protections for vulnerable Iowa seniors.

Senate File 2239 allows vulnerable elders that are taken advantage of to seek a protective order from their abusers, if there is physical or financial abuse. Courts can order a variety of remedies to protect a senior, including requiring the abuser to avoid contact with the senior and removing the powers of an abuser to make decisions for a vulnerable elder.

The bill also requires state agencies that deal with seniors to collaborate and provide written recommendations to strengthen Iowa’s elder abuse prevention efforts.

Senate File 2168 provides additional protections for elderly Iowan’s that rely on a power of attorney to help manage their affairs. It creates specific minimum duties on agents, or people granted authority to act for an elderly Iowan, under one of these legal documents.

The bill establishes mandatory duties on agents, as well as specifying when an agent must disclose information to organizations such as the courts or adult protective services. In addition, the bill provides for powers that an agent cannot exercise unless the document expressly authorizes those powers. There are also provisions creating liability for agents that violate a power of attorney document.

AARP Iowa applauded the passage of the bill. The organization indicated that this bill was the single most important tool to address financial exploitation of elders.

Lastly, as part of the Health and Human Services budget bill, House File 2463, the Legislature approved the re-establishment of the Office of Substitute Decision Maker. The Office helps vulnerable Iowans obtain a guardian or power of attorney to protect their best interest when there is no one else.