Confront elder abuse
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing and renewed calls for justice and reform, it is imperative that we confront ongoing worldwide problems. One of the vastly under-identified and underreported problems is the mistreatment of elders and persons with disabilities.
The Illinois Department on Aging is on pace to respond to more than 21,000 reports of abuse of adults 60 years of age and older and persons 18-59 with a disability this fiscal year; which ends on June 30th. As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet we fail to live up to this promise when we allow members of our society to be abused or neglected. We all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect -- to feel safe and secure, free from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, we know abuse directly coincides with social isolation. And with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many people are forced to stay in dangerous situations because they have nowhere else to go.
Victims of abuse or neglect may not be able to call for help because they are not alone or likely to be overheard. We cannot assume that someone else will report it. We need every Illinois resident to engage to make the change. If you are a victim of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation -- or suspect that someone you know is a victim -- call our statewide 24-hour Abuse Hotline at 866-800-1409.
I encourage all of us to educate ourselves on abuse; how we can recognize the signs, provide intervention and stop it from happening. We must, as a community, work together to make a difference in the lives of the older adults and persons with disabilities in our communities. We owe it to our elders to respect yesterday, support today and plan for tomorrow.
Paula Basta, Director
Illinois Department on Aging