The Elder Abuse and Neglect Program in Illinois
The Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act became law in 1988 and called for the state to address the problem of domestic elder abuse. As a result, the Elder Abuse and Neglect Program was implemented under the direction of the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA). This statewide program was established to respond to reports of alleged elder abuse, neglect and exploitation and to work with the older victims in resolving abusive situations. Services are available to those age 60 and older who live in the community. The State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program responds to many types of complaints from nursing home residents, including reports of abuse and neglect. The agency responsible for investigating allegations of abuse or neglect in long term care facilities, however, is the Illinois Department of Public Health.
After a report is made, trained case workers assess the situation and provide information and assistance to help the older person and family resolve their problems. Many different programs and services, include but are not limited to, respite care for the caregiver, adult day care, housing assistance, and nutrition resources.
As of January 1, 1999, professionals are required, for the first time, to report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation of persons over 60 who, because of dysfunction, are unable to report themselves. The mandatory reporting requirement applies only to an older person who is unable to seek assistance for himself or herself in order not to compromise the older person's right to self-determination. Voluntary reporting continues to be encouraged for suspected mistreatment of older citizens who have the ability to self report.
Mandated reporters include a range of professionals in the medical, social service, law enforcement and eldercare fields. Reporters of elder abuse are provided by law with immunity from criminal or civil liability and professional disciplinary action.
If elder abuse is suspected, calls can be made to the IDOA hotline at 800-252-8966, 8:30 to 5:00 Monday through Friday (voice and T.D.D.), or to 800-279-0400 evenings, weekends, and holidays.