Each year, Adult Protective Services (APS) programs across the country receive more than 500,000 reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving older or otherwise vulnerable adults. In order to sufficiently serve vulnerable adults, APS professionals work closely with a variety of other organizations including healthcare, social services, law enforcement, housing, and legal services. Due to a host of special laws, the state of Illinois was recently recognized as a leader in the protection of the elderly.
For several decades, Illinois’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Act has helped ensure that adults over the age of 60 are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Lawmakers in Illinois modeled the elderly protection laws after the state’s child abuse laws. Over the years, Illinois’s Elder Abuse and Neglect act become viewed as a societal model.
In 2007, Illinois added the protection against self-neglect, like hoarding to the Elder Abuse and Neglect. Today it remains one of the only states to protect against self-neglect.
This year, the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act was amended and expanded to include protection of adults ages 18 to 59. It was renamed the Adult Protective Services Act.
While elder protection laws in Illinois are among the best in country, there is still work to be done:
Bankers that work with families and caregivers should be required to report any suspicious behavior that suggest financial exploitation or abuse of vulnerable adults, according to Kerry Peck, an attorney who worked with the Chicago Department on Aging.
Law enforcement agencies need to work more closely with social services organizations to ensure reports of neglect and abuse do not fall through the cracks, said Courtney Hedderman, the associate state director of Advocacy and Outreach for AARP Illinois.
This week, APS agencies all over the state have come together in Chicago for the 32nd Illinois Governor’s Conference on Aging and Disability to share successes, discuss challenges, and receive training. Conference sessions include an update from the state Adult Protective Services Unit, review of the Older American’s Protection Network and a presentation by the DuPage County APS Fatality Review Team on identifying “at risk” adults.
To learn more about adult protective services in Illinois, visit the Illinois Department website here.
For additional information the laws that help protect seniors and Illinois, click here.