Department of Family & Support Services
City Services

Elder Abuse Information

What You Need to Know About Elder Abuse...

Each year, millions of vulnerable seniors are victims of elder abuse, a pervasive and growing public health issue.  Elder abuse takes many forms and occurs across every social, economic and culture strata. 

In Illinois, elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation; physical abuse; active or passive neglect; and emotional abuse.  More often than not, these abuses are targeted at seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves and are unaware that a crime has been committed, such as individuals who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  And in most cases, victims are subjected to more than one type of
mistreatment.

Often, the abuser is the victim’s caregiver or family member, such as a spouse, child or grandchild—indicating the extent of the victim’s vulnerability.  Because seniors are often isolated, victims of abuse may be afraid or unable to seek help.  This crime frequently goes unreported, which means that these victims suffer unnecessarily, when help is readily available.

Abuse Can Take Many Forms:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual abuse, when the older person is unable to understand or unwilling, or is threatened or physically forced
  • Confinement, restraint or isolation of an older person
  • Passive neglect
  • Willful deprivation of medical care, food, water or physical assistance
  • Financial exploitation

Major Risk Factors:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Physical impairment causing heavy dependency on others
  • Perpetrator with history of mental illness or substance abuse

Medical Implication:

  • Sense of helplessness
  • Higher risk of nursing home placement
  • Higher risk of mortality
  • Suspected higher health care cost

Prevention:

  • Educate seniors about abuse, guilt and the effects of elder abuse
  • Implement safety plans to stop the abuse and prevent it from recurring
  • Understand family dynamics and how to address them
  • Be sensitive to cultural and religious backgrounds

Services and Interventions

As the senior population grows and awareness of elder abuse increases, it is critical that we play a greater role in protecting our seniors. Signs of abuse should be reported immediately.

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Senior Services-Area Agency on Aging has a wide array of services and interventions that can support victims of elderly abuse.  We can provide in-home services, home delivered meals and adult day services. Emergency funds are also available to provide 24-hour care in a nursing home on a limited basis.

An investigator from the Elder Abuse Provider Agency will investigate and assist the client with a safe long-term plan.

To report or inquire about elder abuse the following phone numbers are available:

Chicago Department of Family & Support Services - 312.744.4016

Office of Domestic Violence - 1.877.863.6338 (TTY) 1.877.863.6339

Illinois Department on Aging Help Line at 1.866.800.1409. 

All calls are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.