Gov. Fallin signs law to help protect seniors

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Elderly advocates in Oklahoma celebrate a victory.

This week Governor Fallin signed Senate Bill 587 into law.

The law officially allows cameras in nursing home rooms.

The goal is to combat the horrible crime of elderly abuse.

Hidden cameras have always been legal to use in nursing homes but many businesses would try to deny their use or threaten to evict residents if they installed them.

The new law leaves no doubt families have the right to use hidden cameras if they suspect their loved ones are being abused.

"Nursing home residents are safer now than they've ever been before," elderly advocate Wes Bledsoe said.

The new law signed by the governor unanimously passed the Senate last week.

It allows nursing home residents or their legal representatives to install electronic monitoring at their own expense.

Nursing home owners cannot refuse and don't have to be notified.

"It's a good law to pass," Savvy Senior columnist Jim Miller said.

From clocks to air purifiers, radios and teddy bears, hidden cameras can be bought for between $100 and $600.

"There are lots of options that give people the ability to videotape the care their loved ones are getting in a nursing home," Miller said.

"What we have now is a way for residents to protect themselves," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said he hopes the law actually cuts down on the number of abuse cases now that employees will now know they could be watched at anytime.

"These cameras are going to allow us to deter people from wrongdoing and if they do wrong, we can hold them accountable," Bledsoe said.

The new law makes it a crime to tamper with the cameras and allows the video to be used in a court of law.

The law takes effect Nov. 1.