HELPING SENIORS & ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES
Warning signs of possible elder abuse and abuse of adults with disabilities:
While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, the following are indicators that there could be a problem.
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats, (threats of nursing home placement) and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
My sibling is not providing the care I would like to see for my parent.
Sometimes neglect occurs because caregivers are not trained to provide adequate care or don’t know where to turn for assistance. Other times, neglect occurs because family members misuse the senior’s funds on themselves (for example, drugs, alcohol or gambling). Sometimes neglect occurs because family members refuse to spend the senior’s funds on his or her care so that the family member will inherit more after the senior dies.
If you are worried that your sibling is not providing the care your parent needs, it is a good idea to look into the situation. Familiarize yourself with the signs of elder abuse and neglect so that you are able to distinguish differences of opinion in care from the warning signs of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Try to talk candidly with your sibling and your parent about your concerns. If your sibling will not let you see your parent, he/she could be isolating your parent, which would be another warning sign. The important thing is not to ignore your concerns.
How do I make a report?
You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions. When making the call, be ready to give the name, address, and contact information of the person you suspect is abused or neglected, and details about why you are concerned. Your identity will not be revealed to anyone.
What if you just have a “feeling” about a situation but can’t verify the details? Adult Protective Services (APS) staff are professionally trained to handle such situations. Based on your report, they will assess the situation and determine how best to respond.
You may be asked a series of questions to gain more insight into the nature of the situation.
- Are there any known medical problems (including confusion or memory loss)?
- What kinds of family or social supports are there?
- Have you seen or heard incidents of yelling, hitting, or other abusive behavior?
You will be asked for your name, address, telephone number, etc., however a report will be accepted even if you do not identify yourself. Again, your identity will not be revealed to anyone.
A person making a good-faith report of suspected abuse or neglect can be assured he/she has:
- A right to confidentiality of his/her identity, with a disclosure of identity only with the reporter’s written consent or by the order of a court;
- Protection from civil and criminal liability, as well as professional disciplinary action;
- Protection for providing information, records or services related to a report of suspected mistreatment; and
- Protection against retaliation by an employer.
Call 309-637-3905 or 800-559-7233 to make a report.
What can you do as a caregiver to prevent abuse?
If you’re overwhelmed by the demands of caring for an elder, do the following:
- Request help, from friends, relatives, or local respite care agencies, so you can take a break, if only for a couple of hours.
- Find an adult day care program.
- Stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when necessary.
- Adopt stress reduction practices.
- Seek counseling for depression, which can lead to elder abuse.
- Find a support group for caregivers of the elderly.
- If you’re having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help.
What can you do as a concerned friend or family member?
- Watch for warning signs that might indicate abuse. If you suspect abuse, report it.
- Call and visit as often as you can. Isolation is a major risk factor for abuse.
- Offer to stay with the elder so the caregiver can have a break – on a regular basis, if possible.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Make sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. If they aren’t, enlist professional help to get them in order, with the assistance of a trusted friend or relative if necessary.
- Keep in touch with family and friends and avoid becoming isolated.
- If you are unhappy with the care you’re receiving, whether it’s in your own home or in a care facility, speak up. Tell someone you trust and ask that person to report the abuse, neglect, or substandard care to an elder abuse helpline or long-term care ombudsman, or make the call yourself.
Many seniors are victims of fraud. When the abuser is unknown to the victim, it is handled by police, not Adult Protective Services.
- You can register your telephone numbers with the National Do-Not-Call Registry, which is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To register a phone number, simply call 1-888-382-1222 or go to the website (donotcall.gov).
- You can also “opt out” of the credit agencies’ pre-approved credit offer mailing lists. Simply call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or opt out online at optoutprescreen.com. Additionally, you can ask those with whom you do business to remove your name from their marketing lists.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program…
is dedicated to enhancing the lives of long term care residents through advocacy, education, and resolution of resident complaints, including those related to abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Long-Term Care Ombudsmen protect, defend and advocate for residents by:
- Informing residents and their families of their rights;
- Resolving complaints;
- Providing information on residents needs/concerns to their families, facility staff and their community; and
- Advocating for good individualized care.
The Ombudsman program is available to the following:
- Residents of any long-term care facility;
- Friends and relatives of persons who live in long-term care facilities;
- Long term care facility staff members and administrators with resident-related concerns;
- Individuals and families who are considering nursing home placement as a long-term care option;
- The community-at-large; and
- Other interested groups concerned about the welfare of residents of long-term care facilities.
When contacted, an Ombudsman will…
- Listen to resident and family concerns;
- Keep all information confidential;
- Involve the resident and/or family in the investigation and resolution plan; and
- Seek to resolve problems within the facility.
Reasons to contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program:
- To report a problem or concern;
- To seek information about long-term care facilities;
- To learn more about Illinois’ Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program; or
- To get answers to questions about…
- Facility services or standards;
- Medical coverage;
- Resident rights; and/or
- Transfer or discharge.
Frequent nursing facility complaints:
- Improper eviction or inadequate discharge planning;
- Lack of respect for residents, poor staff attitudes;
- Medication – administration, organization; and
- Resident conflict, including roommate to roommate.
My parent is in a nursing home, and I don’t think he/she’s getting the care he/she needs. What can I do?
To learn more about the quality of the nursing home you are interested in, visit Nursing Home Compare, a tool designed to provide detailed information about Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country. This will help you understand more about the overall environment of the nursing home, as assessed by the licensing agency.
You may also contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at The Center. The Ombudsman will help you understand the situation, and if a formal complaint is warranted, they can assist you and your parent.
Call 309-637-3905 or 800-559-7233 to make a report.