Letter: Illinois must investigate and report on each elder abuse complaint

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Monday

Jul 20, 2020 at 7:05 PM

The Illinois Department on Aging has launched a $2.1 million campaign to increase elder abuse reporting by the public. Unfortunately, this will only lead to a larger gap between how the public expects the state to respond — and how it actually does respond — to our elder abuse reports.

There are only two things we expect when we rise above shame and fear to report elder abuse within our own family. First, we expect a competent investigation of the facts. Second, we expect the state to stop the abuse. "Putting a stop" to elder abuse is in fact, exactly what is being promised by the IDoA director.

However, due to a significant lack of transparency, few Illinoisans know that approximately 11,000, or 60%, of the elder abuse reports Adult Protective Services already receives annually are dismissed as "unconfirmed." Hundreds or thousands more "confirmed" cases are still not ruled severe enough to act upon when the abused elder won’t cooperate.

This allows far too many abusive situations to worsen and compound their effects. Thousands of abusers likewise learn that they have no one to answer to. And many thousands of individuals who report known or suspected abuse at the risk of almost certain retaliation — plus ramped-up intimidation against their beloved elder — suffer a terrible breach of trust.

Illinois must investigate and report factual findings in every single elder abuse complaint — beyond simply counting on the elder involved to speak up. And, when armed with positive findings of abuse, the state should use its authority to immediately order the abuser to cease and desist.

How can everyday citizens, including our abused elders, be exhorted to put themselves on the line by speaking up when the state won’t use its own voice, its own power, to protect them?

— Sandy Baksys, Springfield

26-Delivered

via Rockford Register Star

July 20, 2020 at 09:24PM

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