Local advocates stress importance of Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Every year, millions of people 60 and older are subject to abuse. Monday marked Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Stateline officials say the purpose is to bring attention to those vulnerable in our community.

“This is something that happens all over the place, it’s happening everywhere,” explained Zach Satterlee of Lifescape’s. “These are the people our seniors are depending on and some cases, unfortunately, people chose to take advantage of these seniors.”

The National Council on Aging reports 5 million elders are abused each year.

Grant Nyhammer, the executive director for Northwestern Illinois Area Agency on Aging, says it is a common problem that has been going on for decades. In 60% of the cases, the abuse comes from family. While abuse can take on many forms, the most common type is financial.

“Most of our cases are, I think the numbers are roughly 70% are financial exploitation of an older adult,” Nyhammer said.

Nyhammer says it is important elders not give up their independence.

“The biggest tip I have for older adults is not to do financial power of attorney. That is the tool that is used most in financial exploitation. [It’s] a way for people to, or family members to access their finances without the approval or knowledge of the victims, so we encourage people
not to get a financial power of attorney unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Nyhammer added.

There are resources to help prevent and stop abuse, including an elder abuse hotline.

Nyhammer added that many instances of abuse go unreported, due to the taboo nature of the matter.

“One of the biggest problems we have is people don’t want to report or they don’t report because there’s all kinds of things that go into this where people feel shame or people are embarrassed and they can’t take care of themselves any longer or they assume because it’s a family member that there’s nothing going on, no problems and so we encourage people whenever they think there’s an issue they should probably call and we can look into it and make sure that the older adult, the disabled adult is safe,” he added.

The elder abuse hotline is (800) 222-8000.

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