Adult Protective Services

abused elderly womanThe Adult Protective Services assists senior adults and adults with a disability who are victims of physical, mental, or sexual abuse, are neglected, financially exploited, or neglect of their own needs. This program is coordinated through local agencies in Illinois that conduct investigations and work with senior adults and people with disabilities in resolving abusive situations. Illinois has a limited mandatory reporting law that requires most professionals to report abuse when older persons or people with disabilities when they are unable to make a report on their own behalf. Services can include everything from housing, in-home care, and legal assistance to respite care and counseling. By law, nothing about the alleged abuse can be revealed without the victims permission.

Report abuse in Southern Illinois, call Adult Protective Services at Shawnee Alliance: 1.800.642.7773.

Report abuse elsewhere in Illinois, call the state Adult Protective Services Hotline: 1.866.800.1409 or TTY at 1.888.206.1327.

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Types of Abuse

Abuse comes in many forms – physical, sexual, emotional, deprivation, neglect, confinement, and financial exploitation. All of these acts are investigated by a highly trained professional when they are perpetrated against an older adult or person with a disability.

People often find it surprising to learn that abuse is often a family problem since four out of five abusers are a spouse, child, or other relative of the victim. About 70 percent of the alleged older adult victims are women whose average age is nearly 78.

Each year, the number of abuse reports in Illinois increases, with some 1,000 reports made in Southern Illinois. In response to these reports of abuse, Illinois has implemented the Adult Protective Services program.

Trained caseworkers intervene in response to these reports by conducting investigations and working with victims and abusers in resolving situations that can lead to abuse. Linkages with social service agencies, law enforcement, doctors, and hospital personnel have helped identify suspected cases of abuse.

Victims of abuse generally experience more than one type of abuse. For example, financial exploitation is reported most frequently and is highly associated with emotional abuse and intimidation.

The protective service worker often recommends social services; such as home care, day services, home health care nursing, legal services, income support, medical services, or counseling. These are services available through the social service network in Southern Illinois.

Sometimes the suspected abuser is a caregiver who may no longer be able to manage the stress of providing care. Other times the suspected abuser can receive support, such as counseling for alcohol or substance abuse, if needed.

Everyone should report suspected abuse. Special toll-free hotlines are available for confidential reporting. Call the statewide Abuse Hotline at 1.800.252.8966, or after business hours at 1.800.279.0400. In Southern Illinois, call the twenty-four hour hotline at Shawnee Alliance at 1.800.642.7773.

Some professionals – such as social workers, law enforcement officers, and medical practitioners – are mandated by law to report abuse and neglect if the suspected victim is not able to self-report.

Hoarding and Self-Neglect

Compulsive hoarding and self-neglect are growing concerns, as these behaviors are often self-destructive leading to poor health and unsanitary living conditions. Reports of these behaviors may help to add them to the list of abuse and neglect activities allowed for investigation and intervention through the Department on Aging Adult Protective Services program. worried woman

Hoarding is characterized by the excessive acquisition of, and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.

Compulsive hoarding in its worst forms can cause fires, unclean conditions, injuries from tripping on clutter, and other health and safety hazards. Hoarding can prevent cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping.

People with hoarding behavior are significantly less likely to see a problem in hoarding than a friend or relative is. Only an estimated two to 5% of adults have hoarding tendencies. However, hoarding symptoms often worsen in advanced age when collected items have grown excessive and family members who would otherwise help to maintain and control the levels of clutter either die or move away.

Self-neglect is the inability to maintain an appropriate level of self-care, with the potential for serious consequences to the health and well-being of the person with self-neglect tendency, and perhaps even to their community.

Self-neglect can include an unwillingness to take medication and feelings of isolation. Some of these behaviors could be explained by functional and financial constraints, as well as personal or lifestyle choices.

Living in squalor is occasionally accompanied by dementia, alcoholism, or personality disorders.

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