SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Culminating her work as co-chair of Illinois’ Elder Abuse Task Force, state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, passed two proposals out of a House committee Wednesday to better protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
“In Illinois, it is estimated that only one in 14 instances of elder abuse actually gets reported to authorities,” said Stuart. “Certain professionals are already required by law to make reports of suspected abuse, but anyone can do so confidentially. As the aging population grows, there’s a greater need to raise awareness about this serious issue in order to protect seniors from harm.”
Stuart helped lead the Elder Abuse Task Force, which met over the past two years to evaluate the effectiveness of current elder abuse protections and recommend new policies to increase public awareness of elder abuse and reporting. Her Senate Bill 700 came out of the task force’s final report and would require mandated reporters to notify the Illinois Department on Aging if they suspect an elderly person died as a result of abuse or neglect and mandated reporters at financial institutions to report suspicious activities that indicate financial fraud.
Stuart is also sponsoring Senate Bill 701, a comprehensive measure to crack down on elder abuse and exploitation. The legislation includes five main components:
- Includes abandonment as a form of elder abuse;
- Addresses gaps in training requirements for caseworkers who investigate abuse and neglect allegations;
- Allows for the use of a risk assessment tool to help hospital staff, social workers and other employees better understand who may be at a higher risk for elder abuse;
- Extends the statute of limitations on theft by deception if the victim is over 60 years old; and
- Adds a friend or acquaintance as a person in a position of trust with an older adult for financial exploitation cases.
Both measures received bipartisan support in the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday.
“The Elder Abuse Task Force was formed as a first step toward enhancing current state programs to protect vulnerable adults and their families,” said Stuart. “The bills I advanced today came out of thoughtful collaboration with state agencies and local organizations, and I trust they will have a positive impact to keep our seniors safe.”