301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK VOL. 2, NUMBER 7
By Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
ELDER ABUSE AND NEGLECT -- THE PROBLEM CONTINUES TO GROW
The problem has always been there. But, as the Illinois Attorney General points out, seniors are particularly vulnerable to frauds and financial exploitation, while also being the objects of physical and sexual abuse.
The American Psychological Association reports that every year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological, or other forms of abuse and neglect.
And the population problem is going to increase. Today, one of every 9 Americans is considered "old." But the Baby Boom Generation, having begun to enter the retired population group, will increasingly be a primary expansion factor and a continuing problem. Right now, the 65-or-older Americans exceed 35 million, but that will be exploding for the next 16-17 years.
As a result, 10,000 new retirees will be added to Social Security and Medicare rolls EACH DAY.
Furthermore, those who are 80 or older, given their lengthened life spans, will triple from 5.7 million in 2010 to over 19 million by 2050. And this group is particularly likely to become targets.
In addition, misunderstandings exist about the true nature of many aspects of the problem.
For example many people hearing the expression "elder abuse and neglect" think it applies to seniors living in nursing homes. The Association points out that most elder abuse cases do not occur in nursing homes. These cases actually affect only about 4% of nursing home seniors. Most elder abuse and neglect takes place in the home.
It is family, other household members, or paid caregivers who usually are the actual abusers. And although there are some extreme cases of elder abuse, the home abuse activities are oftentimes less obvious, making it harder to accurately identify them.
Further complicating the situation, there is no single pattern of elder abuse in the home. Sometimes the abuse is a continuation of long-standing patterns of physical or emotional abuse within the family. More often than not, abuse can be traced to changes in living situations and relationships. As a family member grows older, worsening health conditions and requirements can intensify the problems
Of course elder abuse is never an acceptable response to these problems or situations. Effective interventions can very often prevent or stop such abuse.
SO HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH ELDER ABUSE?
Education is a major factor in reducing these events. We have to teach seniors and those who service them what constitutes elder abuse. The learning process also needs to effectively deal with the different types of abuse – Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglect or Abandonment by Caregivers, Financial Exploitation and Healthcare Fraud and Abuse.
It most often occurs in the home where the abusers are apt to be adult children. Other family members such as grandchildren or spouses/partners or elders may be abusers. These abuses take different forms. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse are all common. But groups, who work with these problems, say that the most frequent kind of activity is definitely financial exploitation.
Frequently, this means a caregiver or an outside scam artist conducts activities that result in the misuse of an elder’s personal checks, credit cards or accounts. They may involve the theft of cash, personal data, or household goods. Some activities are one of the widely used common types of fraud attempts, such as prizes supposedly won, but requiring the payment of money to claim.
Seniors may also be victims of any of the various healthcare frauds.
HOW TO REPORT THESE CASES
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office provides a Senior Citizens Consumer Fraud Hotline. If you think you know of an elder abuse situation involving possible fraud, call them at 1-800-243-5377 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).
If you want to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older person living in the community, you can contact the 24-hour Illinois Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-800-1409 or 1-888-206-1327 (TTY). Online, you can visit them at www.state.il.us/aging .
If you want to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older person living at a long-term care facility, contact the Department of Public Health at 1-800-252-4343 or 1-800-547-0466 (TTY). Or you can visit their site at www.idph.state.il.us/ .
There are some excellent groups that are working to provide needed assistance to any of us who may suspect that these elder abuses and neglect situations are affecting their family members.
If you should encounter any of these activities, make notes about the scheduling and activities. List any of the phone numbers or any other information they provide. Then check available organizations to select an effective place to contact.
For example, an excellent group serving Christian County and Macoupin is the Locust Street Resource Center in Carlinville IL 62626. They sponsor the Elder Abuse and Neglect Program which deals with just about any aspect I’ve included in this report.
Also be sure to share this column with any other family members or friends who may encounter similar situations.
Department Activity for the last 5 months: