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Awareness being raised to prevent elder abuse

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 9:26 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Pat Quinn has proclaimed July as Elder Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is raising awareness through its annual campaign. 

Elder abuse refers to a negligent act (physical, sexual, emotional, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation or financial exploitation) by a caregiver or another person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult 60 years of age or older, according to a news release.

“No one likes to talk about it, but all too often it happens and most times it goes unreported. We encourage everyone to break the silence about elder abuse. If you are a victim or suspect someone you know is a victim, report it. The sooner we know about the abuse the sooner we can put a stop to it and help the victim,” IDoA Director John Holton, said in the release.

IDoA operates a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The number for the Adult Protective Services Hotline is 866-800-1409 or TTY 888-206-1327. Trained professionals on the hotline take reports of abuse and forward them to local protective service agencies and/or law enforcement. There are resources to help victims and all calls and information are confidential. In addition to older adults, IDoA extends protective services to people with disabilities ages 18 to 59.

It is estimated about 5 percent of older adults fall victim to abuse each year. With more than 2 million older adults, ages 60 and older in Illinois, that means 100,000 fall victim to some form of elder abuse each year. 

There are some specific indicators that point to abuse: untreated injuries, bruises, burns, sprains or dislocations, scratches and cuts; sudden changes in behavior, unusual depression and/or withdrawal in social settings; tense relationships/frequent arguments with the caregiver or a caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors; dehydration, unusual weight loss, poor hygiene, untreated health problems, unsafe living conditions; and sudden financial changes,

Since starting the statewide campaign to raise awareness 10 years ago, IDoA has documented an increase in the number of reported cases. In FY13, IDoA received 11,756 reports.

For information, visit www.state.il.us/aging.

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