In 2004, a proclamation was signed designating July as Elder Abuse Awareness Month, in Illinois, in an effort to “Break the Silence.” On Monday, Governor Quinn went one step further to increase awareness against abuse. He signed a new law to better protect adults with disabilities and elderly residents living in Illinois.
The Adult Protective Services Act will create an adult unit within the state Department on Aging that will be responsible for investigating cases of abuse, financial exploitation and neglect of adults with disabilities and elderly individuals. In addition, the law will require caretakers to have special training and establish a team to investigate any suspicious deaths that may occur.
These reforms were proposed following the failure of the state to investigate 53 deaths of adults with disabilities who lived at home, despite receiving calls from a state hotline regarding alleged abuse or neglect.
What is Adult Protective Services?
Adult Protective Services (APS) investigates reports alleging abuse, neglect and exploitation of frail elderly and disabled adults and intervenes to protect vulnerable adults who are at risk.
Services to vulnerable adults include:
• case management,
• emergency assistance with basic needs;
• short-term homemaker services;
o coordination of legal services to obtain emergency orders or guardians/conservators;
o placement into long-term care facilities or assisted living homes; and
o coordination of social, assessment and medical services with other agencies and providers.
More information will be forthcoming regarding the new legislation, but at this time it is good to know that more people are being made aware of the abuse that can be present and what to do about it. Only with knowledge can people “break the silence” and stop it from happening.