World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15: LSSI’s Adult Protective Services Program Targets Elder Abuse

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) responds to concerns involving alleged abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults with disabilities and people 60 years of age or older who live in Ogle, Carroll, Lee, and Whiteside Counties. The program is called Adult Protective Services (APS) and follows the standards and procedures of the Illinois Department on Aging. The program model is based on self-determination. Eligible adults maintain the right to privacy and can opt to work with their LSSI Adult Protective Services Case Worker in developing the best plan of action to prevent or stop abuse in their life. They may also decline any involvement with APS. In cases where an eligible adult is significantly mentally impaired, Adult Protective Services will advocate for their safety and best interest. However, LSSI’s APS does not respond to alleged reports of abuse taking place in licensed care facilities, only to adults who live in a community setting.

The most frequent type of report in Illinois and across the nation is financial exploitation. Exploitation can be taking advantage of the Power of Attorney status or joint held bank accounts. It is also unduly influencing the income or assets from an elderly person or someone with a disability. Financial exploitation also includes theft of belongings or medications. Anyone who is financially dependent on an older adult or adult with a disability could possibly be considered exploitative in Illinois.

Care neglect and lack of adequate supervision, nutrition, medication or medical attention, either passively by a well-intentioned caregiver or intentional maltreatment, is considered neglectful. LSSI’s Adult Protective Services often assists caregivers to help them improve their quality of care to an eligible adult as a result of APS involvement. This enables adults to stay in their homes with improved care and often times helps caregivers with referrals to area resources and other helpful intervention.

Confinement and isolation becomes abusive when vulnerable adults are prohibited from their civil liberties or contact with loved ones. Often the elderly and adults with disabilities are emotionally belittled or frightened by people close to them. Often they are the same persons associated with exploiting, neglecting, physically, and even sexually abusing them. LSSI’s Adult Protective Services staff sensitively responds and assists victims to feel safe, confident, and whole. LSSI encourages everyone to report any suspicion of the abuse or the maltreatment of a vulnerable older or disabled adult to the phone numbers listed below.

The Illinois Adult Protective Services Act has provisions that enable APS programs throughout the state limited authority to protect persons 60 and older and adults with disabilities. An adult with a disability is someone with a debilitating physical, medical, or intellectual disability.

All reports made to Adult Protective Services are kept confidential and can be made anonymously. The Illinois Department on Aging operates a 24/7 hotline for reporting. The number is 1-866-800-1409. LSSI’s Adult Protective Service office also accepts reports for its four-county areas during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 5 p.m. at 815-626-7333. Many older and disabled adults self-report abuse to Adult Protective Services and are encouraged to do so.

About Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Founded in 1867, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) is a statewide, not-for-profit social service agency of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI is the largest social service provider in the state, and last year served 73,000 people through 190 programs at 85 sites across Illinois. Services include counseling, mental health, alcohol and drug treatment, residential treatment for children and adolescents, Head Start, child care services, services for at-risk families, residential programs for adults and children with developmental disabilities, foster care and adoption, pregnancy counseling, housing and services for older adults and individuals with disabilities, and programs for people who are incarcerated and their families.


Sarah Karras