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Health, Science and Environment

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

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After two years of work, a state task force rolled out recommendations on Thursday to better protect elderly people from professional guardians or conservators who don’t live up to their responsibilities.

The plans include licensing professional caregivers, limits on how many client’s professional guardians can take on, and giving families more control when a loved one can no longer manage their affairs.

The task force includes Republican and Democratic legislators, eldercare 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," Nessel said.

Led by Republican Senator Roger Victory, the committe chair of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, hearings began right away in hopes of quickly getting the bills signed into law.

“Far too often, these problems have come to light after the emotional, physical and financial harm has happened," Victory said.

Christopher Smith, a member of the Elder Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, is pleased that the government is taking the bills seriously.

"We could be here announcing a report that would just sit on a shelf," Smith said. "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".

If the recommendations are adopted, the state of Michigan would certify professional guardians and conservators.