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Task force releases proposal to protect elderly from abuse by professional guardians

elderly person in wheelchair holding hands with another person
Adobe Stock

The Legislature is expected to act quickly on recommendations released Thursday on ways to better protect elderly people who require assistance from professional guardians or conservators.

If the recommendations are adopted, Michigan would certify professional guardians and conservators. There would also be limits on how many clients professional guardians could take on.

The task force includes Republican and Democratic legislators, elder care experts, and Attorney General Dana Nessel.“If we can’t come together to support seniors and other vulnerable adults in the state, what is the point of having a state government?” said Nessel.

Legislative hearings began right away in hopes of quickly getting the bills signed into law on a problem that’s nettled policymakers for decades.

“Far too often, these problems have come to light after the emotional, physical and financial harm has happened,” said Senator Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville).

The state task force’s recommendations follow two years of work to better protect elderly people when guardians or conservators don’t live up to their responsibilities.

“We could be here announcing a report that would just sit on a shelf,” said Christopher Smith of the Elder Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. “We’re not doing that. We’re proposing specific legislation, and making fundamental changes to legislation is hard, but important, because this could be us someday.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.