My Journal Courier reported on some troubling news late last week on the trends in Illinois elder abuse. The report explained that there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of elder abuse in the region. The need is affecting local elder abuse program budgets. The financial strain is exacerbated by the fact that the state reimbursement system is in disarray, with significantly delayed payments becoming the norm.
One group, The Prairie Council on Aging, investigates abuse cases concerning those over age 60. The group executive director noted that at any given time there may be around seventy open cases. And this is only in one corner of our state. As the director noted, even though many community members may not realize it, elder abuse “is alive and unfortunately present right here in our own backyard.” Each Illinois elder abuse attorney at our firm reminds local community members of the consistency of the problem in our state.
Sadly, not only are there are a steady stream of abuse cases, but the problem may be growing. The Prairie Council on Aging, for example, explained that they have seen a 30% increase in demand for their services. The demand increase was not mirrored in an increase in the senior population, meaning the problems themselves are growing.
Yet, our Chicago elder abuse lawyers counsel that the increase in reported instances of abuse or demand for elder care services may in some ways be a good thing. For quite some time these issues flew under the radar, with only a fraction of mistreatment ever reported. The underreporting problem persists. Increased use of elder care services may actually represent a slow reversal of that trend, with more local community members appreciating the problem and taking action.
However, it is important for organizations and government entities working on these issues to have the resources they need to properly investigate claims, provide relief, and demand accountability when abuse is uncovered. Investigating abuse is a time-consuming and costly process–especially to do it right. Considering the financial mess in Springfield, many organization, including those working on elder care issues, are left struggling to figure out how to survive without getting proper payments from the state.
Many of the groups have resorted to emergency measure to raise funds, often including fundraising drives and events. For example, the Prairie Council on Aging recently held a gospel concert to raise funds. They are hoping that local residents will come out to donate money to keep seniors in the community safe. The program director discussed the organization’s mission, something that each of our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers shares:
“We want them [local seniors] to maintain their dignity and grow old gracefully in a manner that they choose–not their loved ones and not someone who is pretending to be their caregiver and actually ripping them off.”
Hopefully these and similar organization soon see relief so that they are able to continue fulfilling their vital mission in the community. Raising awareness of these problems is an important goal, but that awareness must come with increased resources for those working to help the seniors affected.
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