What is elder abuse? At The Law Offices of David H. Brinton, LLC, we define it as when individuals aged 60 or older are exploited or abused. Elder abuse in Illinois is unlawful and can be emotional, psychological, or physical abuse; mistreatment, neglect, or financial exploitation.
According to the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA), in good faith, anyone can report a case of abuse. If your loved one was the victim of elder abuse in Illinois, our team is here to help. Read on to learn more about this common yet heartbreaking issue and what your next steps should be.
As an Illinois elder abuse attorney, David H. Brinton can assist families who have had their elder loved ones neglected, harmed, or taken advantage of and seek justice and financial compensation for the damages suffered.
How Common Is Elder Abuse in Illinois?
Searching for a nursing home community or a long-term care facility for your loved one takes effort and time. The job of healthcare workers in nursing home facilities tends to be strenuous and many facilities remain understaffed. With these factors, the risk of abuse rises. But, even in situations where a home has tremendous reviews and is highly regarded as a top-tier home for mature adults, instances of elder abuse can still take place.
According to the IdoA, tens of thousands of reports of abuse occurred from the beginning of July 2019 through June 2020. These include instances of neglect, abuse, and financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation was the most prevalent with 6,308 cases. The following cases included:
- Emotional abuse with 4,148 cases
- Self-neglect with 3,674 cases
- Passive neglect with 3,543 cases
- Physical abuse with 2,689 cases
- Willful deprivation with 1,980 cases
- Confinement with 691 cases
- Sexual abuse with 452 cases
Women had the highest rates of abuse compared to their male counterparts. Even though anyone can report instances of elder abuse, the majority of those that report tend to be social workers, family services, and medical personnel.
Who Can Report Elder Abuse in Illinois
Many times, an elderly person is being harmed, and they are unable to speak up for themselves to report their mistreatment and secure help. It’s critical that if you suspect or know that abuse is happening that you report it.
The Adult Protective Services Act helps potential whistleblowers that make reports of abuse in good faith by keeping reporters safe from punitive repercussions like negative criminal, civil, or professional legal implications. In most cases, the reporter can stay anonymous. This act also protects the good intentions of those that cooperate with an investigation into elder abuse.
Outside of individuals reporting incidents they know about or suspect in good faith, there are certain professionals required by law to speak up when abuse is present or thought to be happening. Typically, when there is possible elder abuse happening to individuals aged 60 and older or disabled individuals who are aged 18-59, the following professions have a duty under the law to make a report:
- Law enforcement
- Social services and social workers
- Adult care
- Education professionals
- Medical professionals
- Some state workers who work with seniors
Where to Report Elder Abuse in Illinois
For professionals that have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse in situations where the abused is believed to be unable to report for themselves, there is plentiful information in the IDoA’s Senior Helpline. The number to call is 1-800-252-8966 or 711 (TTY).
Others that would like to report abuse can call the Adult Protective Services Hotline at 1-866-800-1409 or 1-888-206-1327(TTY). These numbers provide 24-hour service.
Residents who are able and live in nursing homes themselves can call the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ SLF Complaint Hotline, too. This number is 1-800-226-0768.
Remember, it’s critical to have information on the potential abuse case when a helpline is called. Some examples of important information to collect include:
- The name, sex, age, and address of the victim.
- The victim’s telephone number.
- The victim’s health and well-being.
- The identifying information of the abuser includes their age, sex, phone number, relationship to the victim, and their health status.
- The level of danger the abused victim is in.
- What type of abuse is happening to the victim.
- If the abused victim can report their abuse or if they are incapable of such an action.
- If you are open to further contact from protective services about the abuse you reported.
- Identifying information of anyone else who may have knowledge of the abuse.
- All relevant information that could help the abused victim and that protective services could find useful.
The more information you have, the better. This can help an investigation yield results that safeguard the victim. The good news is that if you are unsure about reporting, there are strict confidentiality provisions that exist in many cases.
When abuse is found and confirmed, victims can take legal action against an abuser and/or the facility where the abuse took place to obtain financial compensation for damages. It’s always best to work with an attorney and obtain informative legal guidance when doing so. Most facilities are armed with their team of attornies, and handling that task on your own can be daunting.
Get Help Today
When an elder abuse situation is realized, it can be quite emotional and distressing. While the abuse cannot be undone, keeping a vulnerable individual from further deprivation and harm is essential. For more information, please connect with a Chicago elder abuse attorney at The Law Offices of David H. Brinton, LLC to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
For more than two decades, attorney Brinton has been dedicated to helping victims of elder abuse and neglect in Chicago and the surrounding areas. If you need help with nursing home litigation in Chicago, contact us today.