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Group Forms to Stop Elder Abuse

The Toledo Blade reports on the creation of a citizen run group known as the Coalition of Organizations Protecting Elders (COPE), a welcome development in the quest to provide proper care for the elderly.

The group was founded by Sandra Hamilton after she witnessed repeated examples of elder abuse and recognized the need for increased vigilance to stem the problem and hold the abusers accountable. The organization works with its citizen-members to provide training and information so that members are able to recognize elder abuse and neglect and take appropriate action to stop the mistreatment.

COPE reports that only between 15-20% of elder abuse cases are ever reported. That means that for every one elderly resident saved from abuse, five more continue to suffer. Often the abuse goes unreported because the average individual does not fully understand the various forms that the neglect occurs.

One of the most common forms involve financial exploitation, where an elderly victim’s personal finances are used in unfair, misleading, or fraudulent ways by caregivers or nursing home employees. Ms. Hamilton recalls one instance where a woman literally kidnapped an elderly patient in her care from the hospital so that she could begin receiving the patient’s pension checks, even though the caregiver’s failure to provide proper medical care led to the hospitalization in the first place.

In Illinois, a similar group known as Bankers and Seniors Against Financial Exploitation (B*SAFE) was created specifically to address the growing problem of financial exploitation of senior citizens. One of B*SAFE’s initiatives involves proper training of bank personnel to recognize unusual transactions in the accounts of their elderly customers.

Illinois officials also responded to elder abuse by created TRIAD, one of the first organizations in the nation addressing the issue of crimes against the elderly. TRIAD has local branches throughout the state composed of local law enforcement officials, senior community activists, and other community members to educate the community on the problem. TRIAD seeks to train more Illinois citizens to report abuse so that the neglect stops, the abusers are punished, and the victims are properly compensated.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are also focused on stemming the abuse of senior citizens throughout the state. The team has decades of experience fighting for the rights of the victims and their families. If you suspect that similar abuse or neglect has occurred to someone you know, please contact our nursing home attorneys. Too many abused seniors suffer every day, and they deserve advocates fighting on their side.