Agencies shine light on elder abuse

According to estimates by the Illinois Department on Aging, as many as 80,000 adults ages 60 and older are abuse victims each year.

This month, the state and local governments are trying to bring that number down by drawing attention to the problem.

In doing so, Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles Johnson has declared July to be Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

Louis Bianchi, McHenry County state’s attorney, also has been working with the elderly on a local level through presentations and distributing information packets.

“Our basic goal is to serve and protect the elderly against abuse,” Bianchi said.

Elder abuse, defined as neglect, physical injury, mental, sexual or financial abuse, often is unreported by the elderly because they’re embarrassed or not sure what to do.

Organizations such as Senior Service Associates Inc. in Crystal Lake and McHenry try to help seniors who are facing abusive situations.

“Sometimes seniors don’t want to tell us about abuse because they’re afraid we’ll try to put them in a nursing home or a loved one in jail,” said Marsha Boncosky, supervisor of senior protective services at the Crystal Lake location.

Bianchi said it’s very important that senior citizens are careful not to get caught in get-rich-quick scams.

One-third of all fraud victims are the elderly. And with the economy the way it is, more scammers are on the prowl to offer alluring investment “deals.”

No matter in what way the elderly person is being abused, it’s important to seek help immediately.

“Just like we’re hard on those who abuse children, we’re going to prosecute those who abuse the elderly, financially or physically, to the fullest extent of the law,” Bianchi said.

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