Letter to the Editor: Elder Abuse Awareness


SPRINGFIELD - July 24, 2014.  Elder abuse happens every day when older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited by others.

No one likes to talk about it, but all too often it happens and most times it goes unreported. In fact, it is estimated that each year more than 100,000 older persons in Illinois alone are victims of elder abuse.

To raise awareness and visibility of this silent problem, Governor Quinn has proclaimed July Elder Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in Illinois and the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) has launched the 10th annual statewide “Break the Silence” campaign. We encourage reporting suspicious cases. If you are a victim or suspect someone you know is a victim, report it.

There are some signs that may point to abuse including untreated injuries, sprains or dislocations, scratches and cuts; sudden change in behavior or withdrawal in social settings; a caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors; dehydration, malnutrition, poor personal hygiene, untreated health problems, hazardous or unsafe living conditions; sudden changes in bank account or banking practices, the inclusion of additional names on the person’s bank signature card, unauthorized withdrawal of funds using the person's ATM or credit card, and abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents.

IDoA operates a 24 hour hotline for the purpose of reporting the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of an eligible adult. In addition to older adults ages 60 and older, an eligible adult includes people with disabilities ages 18 to 59 who live in a domestic setting. Trained professionals on the hotline take reports of abuse and promptly forward them to local protective service agencies and/or law enforcement. There are resources to help victims and all calls and information related to suspected abuse are confidential.

The number for the 24 hour Adult Protective Services Hotline is (866) 800-1409 or TTY (888) 206-1327.

Break the Silence. The sooner we know about the abuse, the sooner we can help put a stop to it.

John K. Holton, PhD
Illinois Department on Aging