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Illinois Department on Aging awards 2007 Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsmen

The Illinois Department on Aging recently awarded Judy Ellet of the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors and Kate Donovan of Rockford 2007 Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsmen Awards. Long Term Ombudsmen have an important role in Illinois elder rights as they work to protect, defend and advocate for the rights of nursing home and long term care residents and their families. They help with resolving complaints of abuse and neglect, providing information to families and residents and advocate for good individualized care among other important services.

Elder abuse often goes unnoticed, but research indicates that about 4 to 5 percent of people aged 60 years and older are subjected to some form of mistreatment. In Illinois, over 50 percent of elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation; 25 percent allege physical abuse; 45 percent allege active or passive neglect; and 45 percent allege emotional abuse. However, only about one in 13 cases are reported to Illinois’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Program.

Emotional abuse is a common form of elder abuse and can include unnecessarily restraining, isolating or confining an elderly person among other ways and is often coupled with other forms of abuse. Physical abuse and sexual abuse, especially in nursing homes is also prevalent. Passive neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide an older person with necessities such as clothing, food, shelter or medical care or failure to supervise patients and nursing home residents and is too common in Illinois’s nursing homes and long term care facilities. Willful deprivation is willfully denying an older person medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device or other physical assistance or failing to adequately control pain and discomfort. All of these forms of abuse can lead to physical, mental and emotional harm.

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