Governor Nathan Deal made a stop in Moultrie to sign a bill for elder abuse.
The Elder Abuse Act passed the House with a unanimous vote. During his stop in southwest Georgia to sign the bill, Governor Deal stated this shows how much lawmakers are dedicated to protecting those who can't protect themselves.
"I think it indicates an acknowledgement on the part of the general assembly that they probably have heard of examples of elder abuse in their particular parts of the state and they came together and said this is something that really does need to be done," said Governor Nathan Deal, (R)-Georgia.
Deal says elder abuse can range from physical abuse to financial thefts.
The Elder Abuse Law lays out the definition of elder abuse in an effort to prevent both physical and financial abuse of senior citizens.
"We are seeing an increase in that because unfortunately because we have an older population and the percentage of our population is elderly and is continuing to grow," said Governor Deal.
Dougherty County officials say they've noticed a growth in elderly crimes. In November 2012, an elderly woman was found malnourished and living in deplorable conditions while in the care of her sons. In the last week of April 2013, a former caregiver was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly bilking thousands out of patient's account.
"This older generation is more trusting so they're more accepting for someone to actually steal their identity's get their credit cards or their check. Unfortunately they fall prey to a lot of those," said Tom Jackson, Dougherty County Police.
Captain Jackson says many times older citizens live off a limited income and when that's gone, they can't start over. He says that's why the passing of this bill was necessary.
"There's more people out here now that are required to report abuse if they suspect it and that's what they're trying to accomplish because sometimes these elderly people don't want to speak up for themselves," said Tom Jackson.
The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association released the following statement after the signing:
"At a time when some under the Gold Dome were touting legislation that would have undermined the safety and care of our senior citizens, and especially those having to be admitted to nursing homes, it is extremely encouraging to see the overwhelming support for a bill to protect Georgia's Seniors," remarked Georgia Trial Lawyers Association President Jay Sadd. "Governor Deal and Chairman Willard, as well as Legislative Leadership and the vast majority of the General Assembly, should be commended for taking this courageous stand on behalf of our state's senior citizens. Because of their accomplishment, our Seniors will rest easier knowing that the steps outlined in this legislation will significantly strengthen law enforcement's ability to prosecute those who would harm our most vulnerable and revered Georgians."