PORTLAND — A bipartisan proposal backed by Maine’s Republican senator to protect Alzheimer’s disease patients from exploitation has passed both houses of Congress.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle to propose the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act. The proposal is designed to make sure the U.S. Department of Justice’s elder abuse training materials consider the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders.

Approximately one in 10 people age 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse, Collins said. She said the prevalence is much higher for people with dementia disorders. Some estimates put it over 50%, she said.

The proposal also instructs the justice department to consult with stakeholders in developing the new materials, and include information in its annual report about where to access them.

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