SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois is launching a $2.1 million campaign to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors and adults with disabilities, a problem officials fear has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Illinois Department on Aging's Office of Adult Protective Services received federal funds for the three-year Engage2Change campaign. It will include ads on television, online and via email that will encourage people to report suspected abuse of people age 60 and older and of disabled adults. Some funds also will be used for training caseworkers and legal professionals.
Adult Protective Services responded to over 21,000 reports of suspected neglect, abuse and financial exploitation of adults in 2019. The cases included financial exploitation, physical and sexual abuse, neglect and confinement, with victims often being abused by family members.
Illinois Department of Aging Director Paula Basta said abuse directly coincides with social isolation. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to stay in dangerous situations because they have nowhere else to go. The new campaign provides information on how to spot signs of abuse, how to report suspected cases and the type of help available.
“Victims of abuse or neglect may not be able to call for help because they are not alone or are likely to be overheard," Basta said. “We cannot assume that someone else will report it.”
This story has been corrected to show that the director of the Illinois Department of Aging is Paula Basta, not Paul Basta.