By Matthew Melton

Washington State is working to keep the elderly from becoming isolated from their adult children. Two key laws, House Bills 2401 and 2402, were heard before the House Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2016. They would require that an individual be given access to their loved ones, in the event that their elderly family member has a court appointed guardian other than themselves. These laws become critical when considering the amount of corrupt guardians; caregivers who are not looking out for the best interests of the elderly or their families. Washington is just one battle in a larger fight.

This is where Kerri Kasem comes in: she is among those championing the aforementioned laws (also known as the “Visitation Bill”). With her father– the late radio icon Casey Kasem as her inspiration– she takes the fight personally. To this end, she pours her heart into Kasem Cares and the Kasem Coalition. Kasem Cares is a non-profit focused on ensuring the dignity of the elderly, while the Kasem Coalition focuses solely on lobbying efforts needed to bring about changes in current elderly laws.

Kerri was involved in a legal battle over the right to see her father toward the end of his life. She has since made it her life’s work to help protect the elderly from being isolated from their family. Kerri, lawmakers, and concerned citizens have ensured the adoption of various versions of the Visitation Bill in California, Texas, and Iowa; Maryland is also involved in current legal efforts. Delegate Sid Saab is part of the efforts to get a version of the Visitation Bill passed in that state.But with so many states without any form of this legislation, there remains a long and difficult fight. Yet it is one which Kerri and company welcome.

To this end, the Kasem Cares Conference on Aging will be taking place on April 21-23, 2016 in Costa Mesa, California.The conference is intended to start a national dialogue and discuss actions needed to effect changes in family visitation rights, while also promoting awareness and education on aging issues we all face.