Duluth News Tribune: Klobuchar’s bill aims to protect seniors, vulnerable people

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar believes America needs to do more to protect its senior and disabled citizens from abuse and neglect by their guardians.

Toward that end the Minnesota Democrat — who held a round-table meeting on the issue Friday at Duluth’s Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living Residence — has introduced legislation aimed at protecting seniors and vulnerable people.

She bases the need for such protection on her experiences as Hennepin County attorney, on governmental reports and on the tribulations of people like Deanna Van de North.

Van de North of St. Paul told the audience at Friday’s round table

how her mother’s guardians moved her from an assisted-care facility in the Twin Cities to her farm in rural Minnesota. The guardians hired unlicensed caregivers to care for the 82-year-old woman, who was suffering from dementia and diabetes. Over five years the guardians wrote checks to themselves or to “cash” on the woman’s account totaling more than $60,000. They restricted family visits — not even telling most family members of the woman’s death until after her body was cremated.

“We had a horrible experience,” said Van de North, who hailed Klobuchar’s legislation.

“It’s great she has brought the issue to the forefront,” she said. “There are crooks out there, and they are going to take advantage of people.”

Klobuchar’s bill, the Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act (S.F. 1744), would provide money to help state courts improve procedures dealing with adult guardianship and conservatorship. It also would authorize a pilot program for conducting background checks on people wanting to be appointed as guardians or conservators.

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