Crowe awarded for senior advocacy

Brandon Paykamian • Sep 12, 2019 at 9:03 AM

Tennessee Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, says it's important to promote bipartisan public policy to protect senior citizens and people with disabilities, especially as the region’s population continues to age.

“It’s good for people to support public policy for seniors because we are all getting older,” the chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee said.

On Monday, Crowe received the 2019 Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging (SE4A) Aging Impact Award at the SE4A Annual Conference at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville for his work promoting and sponsoring legislation he said aims to help Tennessee’s senior citizens. 

The award is given annually to those who have “made a significant impact on the quality of life for older adults through advocacy, public policy, program development and cultural enhancement.”

“I was honored ... to be picked for this award,” he said.

This year, Crowe sponsored legislation to establish the State Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Advisory Council. This council will be tasked with examining existing industries, services and resources for patients and caregivers, as well as addressing and assessing the needs of those suffering from the disease.

“It is so tough for people who have to be caregivers, and the Alzheimer’s numbers are so great now, almost everyone knows someone who has Alzheimer's or some related dementia,” he said.

Crowe was recognized for sponsoring and co-sponsoring legislation for senior citizens, including a law to establish an Elder Abuse Task Force tasked with improving the Tennessee Adult Protection Act to keep vulnerable adults and senior citizens safe from financial exploitation.

Crowe additionally pushed the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Acts of 2017, 2018 and 2019 to increase penalties for elderly abuse; the Senior Financial Protection and Securities Modernization Act of 2017 to combat abuse and financial exploitation of Tennesseans who are elderly or have diminished capacity; and a provision in 2016 that sets up checks on people who work with vulnerable adults in hospice care. 

“You could say Tennessee is taking the lead on this because a lot of states are looking at what we’ve done,” he said, adding that legislators also recently allocated an additional $1 million in the 2019-20 budget for a public guardianship program to assist seniors who have no family left to handle their affairs.

Crowe said all of these shifts in public policy came from Tennesseans who called legislators to raise their concerns about abuse against senior citizens and people with disabilities. Crowe said many of those calls came from Johnson City and elsewhere in his district. 

“When I got this award, I made sure I let them know it wasn’t just me — it’s a result of our entire community and our constituency and really, a lot of this has come from Johnson City and Washington, Carter and Unicoi County,” he said. “It’s those caregivers, counselors and caseworkers that have made all this come together.”

In addition to Crowe’s award, the Johnson City Seniors’ Center was also recognized by the association for its program offerings.

For more information on the Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging, visit www.se4a.org

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