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Community Advocacy Needed to Protect “The People Who Took Care of Us”

Last month we reported that elder abuse lawyer Marie-Therese Connolly received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her advocacy efforts on behalf of victimized seniors. The award was an encouraging step in the right direction for all those who care about the proper treatment of our area seniors. Far too often elder abuse is an issue that gets pushed under the rug and ignored. The more people are made aware of the problem, its severity, and scope, the greater chance of catching elder abuse before it gets out of hand. Lives can be saved in the process. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys know that hundreds, if not thousands, of seniors are the victims of serious abuse in nearby homes. All the attention that is brought to the issue to lower that figure is welcome.

This week the News Leader interviewed Ms. Connolly on her work and elder abuse generally. She explained how mistreatment of seniors remains one of the most hidden problems in the country. Physical mistreatment is particularly common and heartbreaking. She explains the tell-tale signs of physical abuse often include bruises on the neck, head, thighs, or soles of the feet. She notes that “If we can help people understand how to tell the difference between an accidental bruise and an inflicted bruise, that’s a beginning.” She believes that advances in forensic knowledge is important in the process to help all those involved in keeping seniors safe-from elder abuse lawyers and social workers to criminal prosecutors.

Ms. Connelly notes that the problem must receive more attention now, because it is likely only to get worse. As the 77 million Baby Boomers retire, the stress on the elder care system will only increase in the years ahead. Elder abuse may rise as a result. The problem is already at shocking levels. According to a recent survey, one out of every ten seniors over sixty years old becomes elder abuse victims. Those abuse percentages are much higher among certain targeted groups. For example, nearly half of all dementia patients are neglected.

The sheer total instances of abuse are troubling. However, even more problematic is the fact that the vast majority of that abuse goes completely unreported. A comprehensive University of California study recently found that a staggering ninety sixty percent of cases are never brought to light. As Ms. Connelly notes, these statistics bespeak a real ignored problem. “I can’t think of another issue that affects more people in this country where less is being done,” she remarked.

Unlike advocacy efforts for other tragic problems, like child abuse and domestic violence, far fewer resources and attention are devoted to senior mistreatment. The potential complexities in understanding when abuse is occurring are part of the problem. Because seniors may bruise easier than others, many observers fail to ask questions to learn more about the injury whereas they might ask if the victim was younger.

Illinois elder abuse must receive more attention. The Chicago injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti believe that no major improvement in senior care can be had unless those in a position to report mistreatment and demand accountability actually step up and take action. There is no benefit to remaining silent when you suspected that a friend or family member is not receiving the level of care to which they are entitled.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs–The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog–were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

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