The Illinois Department on Aging received over 20,000 reports of elder abuse-related deaths last year. This number is disturbingly high, especially since many abuse cases go unreported. The State of Illinois has created an Elder Abuse Task Force to investigate the issue and look for ways to combat elder abuse statewide.
Illinois Governor Says Enough Is Enough
Governor J.B. Pritzker is taking action against elder abuse in Illinois. He expressed great concern over the shocking number of older citizens that are abused in nursing homes and by caregivers or family members every year.
The governor decided that it was time to take a new approach to the problem. Pritzker announced his Elder Abuse Task Force at the Illinois State Fair’s Senior and Scout Day this past August. He asserts that every Illinois citizen deserves to feel safe, no matter their age or ability.
“One case of elder abuse would be too many,” Pritzker said, “but 20,000 cases annually is unacceptable.”
Elder Abuse Task Force to Investigate Protective Services
The Elder Abuse Task Force is a 22-member committee consisting of agency heads, elder abuse experts, legislators, and law enforcement. The task force includes State Senators Rachelle Crowe and Craig Wilcox, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Kelly Richards, and Police Chief Brian Fengel.
The goal of the task force is to investigate the effectiveness of current protective practices that are supposed to keep our elders safe. The task force will be looking at training resources and best practices used in other states that may be useful in Illinois. They will also be examining the barriers to prosecution that leave elders at risk.
Members of the task force also hope to raise public awareness of elder abuse. A common misconception about elder abuse is that abuse is solely physical. However, abuse can take many forms that are difficult to recognize, such as emotional and financial abuse.
The task force hopes that educating the public about the various types of elder abuse will increase reporting.
The task force will report their findings to the governor and the General Assembly on January 1, 2021. Based on their findings, the group will develop a long-term plan for Illinois to ensure our elderly citizens are treated with respect and dignity.
States Responding to Rampant Elder Abuse
Illinois isn’t the only state taking action against elder abuse. Back in June, the Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel, launched an Elder Abuse Task Force to combat the overuse of court-appointed guardians.
State courts can appoint strangers to care for elders who have become incapacitated. Over 32,000 adults are under guardianship in Michigan. A guardian has complete control over the elder’s medical, financial, and legal decisions. Sadly, the role is often abused.
The United States Department of Justice has several other regional Elder Justice Task Forces. The goal of these task forces is to investigate nursing homes that provide inadequate elder care and hold people accountable for abuse.
Thanks to the efforts of the Kentucky Elder Justice Task Force, two people were sentenced to prison earlier this year for taking money from their elderly relatives for personal use. Task forces like these all over the country are holding people accountable for victimizing our elderly citizens.
Elder Abuse Deaths Are Preventable
There are many different resources to protect elders, including the Adult Protective Services, long-term care ombudsmen, and local police. However, these programs only work if people report incidents of elder abuse to the authorities.
Task forces play an important role in shedding light on major issues and finding new ways to solve abuse problems. But in the end, it’s everyone’s responsibility to help put an end to elder abuse and the deaths that result from these incidents.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of elder abuse in a nursing home, you have the power to take action and hold offenders accountable. Contact our team today to learn about your legal options.