The state of Illinois takes elder abuse very seriously. This is evident from the state legislation that defines the problem and mandates the response of specific agents within the jurisdiction. The Elder Abuse and Neglect Act was implemented in 1988 based on concerns for the safety of older residents. The initiative defines elder abuse as follows:
*Physically striking or battering an elder *Sexual abuse, including touching, fondling or sexual intercourse with an elderly party who is unable to provide informed consent, or is threatened or forced to consent *Emotionally abusing an elder through threats of abuse or intimidation
*Confinement of an elderly person through restraint or isolation *Passive neglect or the failure to provide for an elder’s basic needs *Failure to protect an elder from harm
More than 13% of the population is over the age of 65-years old, with an expected increase to 20% by 2050, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). Many members of this elderly population require a significant level of care. This responsibility is often taken on by adult children, who reportedly account for most cases of elderly abuse. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are also common caregivers for the aging population and, unfortunately, abuse occurs in these government regulated organizations as well.
Incidents of Elder Abuse in Illinois
A recent report in The Doings Weekly discusses abuse in DuPage County. In 2013, there were reportedly 467 cases of elder abuse. By midway through 2014, the number of reported cases was already at 297.The article attributes the increase to a 2013 change in Illinois law, which expanded adult protective services to include all disabled adults over the age of 20-years-old. Of the 2014 cases, 37 of the alleged victims were disabled. The most common complaint involved financial exploitation by a family member and the second highest allegation was based on elder neglect.
Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Program
One major element of the statute is the creation of the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Program. Falling under the Illinois Department of Aging, the organization is charged with maintaining an intervention program in response to elder abuse claims. A telephone hotline was set up to accept identified and anonymous reports of abuse. While the decision to report is entirely voluntary for most, some professionals are mandated by law to report on cases of elder abuse. They include:
*Social workers while engaged in their profession
*Law enforcement officers while engaged in their profession *Teachers while engaged in their profession *Department of Public Health field employees *State employees who provide services to the elderly
*Coroners or medical examiners *Nursing home facility employees
If reporting is done in good faith, these professionals are immune from criminal or civil liability, including any disciplinary actions by their employer. In addition, the act mandates that the reporter;s identify remain undisclosed, unless the reporter consents or the Court orders disclosure.
Elder abuse is a serious offense and when it occurs, the responsible party should be held accountable. If your elderly loved one has been a victim of elder abuse, call Levin & Perconti at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.