Elder abuse & neglect

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Help is a phone call away. To report abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of someone 60 years or older, call (866) 800-1409. For the Illinois Senior HelpLine, call (800) 252-8966. For more options, press Get Help Now.

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John's story

John is a 92-year-old retiree from Bridgeport, Illinois. He has been happily married to his wife Jenna for years. But John was having trouble taking care of both their needs on his own. Finally, John moved Jenna into a nursing home, so she could get better care for her dementia. He also hired a caregiver through an agency to help him at home.

But the caregiver soon left the agency to work directly for John. At this time, she began to neglect John and take advantage of his finances. Others grew worried when they noticed major changes in John’s behavior, so they eventually filed a report with Adult Protective Services (APS). This led to John getting help and regaining control of his care and his finances.

Your story

Whether your story is similar to John's or not, know that help is available now. You are not alone. See Rights of crime victims and witnesses.

Learn more about help for elder abuse and neglect victims:

Click or tap to see which help best meets your needs.

Month 1

John was struggling to take care of himself and his wife, Jenna. He didn’t have any major medical issues, but he still needed help with cooking and cleaning. His wife Jenna suffered from dementia and her needs were more demanding. He realized that he needed to think about protecting himself and his assets.

Options for help

One in four households takes on the role of caring for older family members and friends. Family caregivers play a key role in providing for the long-term care of older adults.

As people age, it is important they plan ahead by creating a living will and a power of attorney for property and power of attorney for health care. For more information, see Using a small estate affidavit and Giving your house to someone when you die.

Month 2

John needed to make some important decisions about how to get help. He thought about asking family, but their only son was more interested in his parents' money and property than in taking care of them. So, John started looking for help that they could get through the Illinois Department on Aging.

Options for help

The Illinois Department on Aging helps older adults live in their own homes and communities. For more information, see Nursing homes and Nursing home financing. If you are under 60 years old but have similar issues, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Month 3

Jenna needed both personal and medical care, so John started looking for a nursing home for her. He found a few that accepted Medicaid, and he made appointments to visit them. The Department on Aging also helped John hire a caregiver through another agency.

Options for help

There are many programs like Social Security, SSDI/SSI, and Medicaid that help older adults with financial, medical, and housing needs. For more information, see Aid to the aged, blind, and disabled, Community integrated living arrangements, and Supportive housing programs for people with disabilities

Month 4

The new caregiver helped John and Jenna visit a few nursing homes. They found one that they liked. This nursing home could provide the level of care that Jenna needed. It was also located close to their home, so John could visit as often as he wanted.

Options for help

When older adults and their families need to make decisions about long-term care, there are several organizations and services that can assist them in making informed choices. For more information, see Community care program, or contact the Senior HelpLine.

Month 6

For a while, John felt really good about the decisions he had made. His caregiver was able to help him with cooking, household chores, and transportation. The caregiver brought John to visit Jenna at the nursing home 3 to 5 times per week, and Jenna seemed to be adjusting well.

Options for help

There are options available for people who need care in their own home. For more information, see The home services program. You can also look into DHS Rehabilitation Services.

Month 12

John's caregiver suggested that she could leave her agency and work directly for John. She told John that it would save him money, and he could contact her at any time he wanted. John got along really well with his caregiver, and he agreed that this could be a good arrangement.

Options for help

There are pros and cons of hiring a private homecare worker. The Family Caregiver Alliance has great information on this topic. For more information, see Hiring in-home help.

Month 15

After the caregiver started working directly for John, she became more controlling, especially with John’s money.  She would go through his mail and open bank statements before giving them to him. John's caregiver asked for more money. She said she needed a raise because she was doing more work. John wasn't sure if these were reasonable requests, but he didn't know who to contact since the caregiver now worked directly for him. John was spending all of his time with the caregiver; he only left the house for appointments and to visit Jenna at the nursing home. The nursing home staff noticed some changes in John's behavior. He wasn't visiting Jenna as often, and he had stopped bringing her gifts. The nursing home staff were not sure if they should get others involved, like family members or the public guardian's office.

Options for help

It is important to protect your assets, and know your rights and the warning signs of financial abuse to Prevent financial exploitation. Health care-related fraud takes away billions of dollars that could provide much-needed services. For more information, see Looking out for fraud. You can also call the APS Hotline at 1-866-800-1409 to ask whether you or someone you know is being treated poorly. Calls are anonymous.

Abuse of the elderly and adults with disabilities is the least known form of family violence. It's important to recognize the signs of elder abuse and neglect. Any person who suspects abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of an elderly person may report this situation to a local agency and request a Senior Well Being Check. Also, if you make a report believing that it is in the senior's best interest, you won't face criminal or civil liability, or professional disciplinary action. For more information, see Protection from abuse and neglect for senior citizens, and visit the Public Guardian's Office or the Office of State Guardian

Month 19

The caregiver became even more controlling of John's finances. She added her name to John’s bank account and sold some of his personal property and assets. During a recent checkup, John's doctor noticed that he was much quieter than usual. The caregiver answered all of the questions directed to John. John's bank and nursing home staff were also worrying about his behavior. The bank noticed that large withdrawals were made after the caregiver was added to the account. The nursing home staff became even more concerned when John stopped visiting Jenna altogether. A staff member from the nursing home called John to check in and overheard an argument between him and someone else in the background. The staff member finally decided to alert APS about their concerns regarding John. They also filed for guardianship of Jenna.

Options for help

Guardianship of an adult is when a judge chooses someone to take care of another person with a disability who is 18 years or older. A guardian must do their best to make decisions that are as close as possible to what the person would have made if they could make their own decisions. For more information, see Guardianship of an adult, and visit the Public Guardian's Office or the Office of State Guardian

Call the APS Hotline at 1-866-800-1409 to ask whether you or someone you know is being treated improperly. Calls are anonymous.

Month 22

A caseworker from APS responded to the nursing home's report. They went to John's home and met with him alone. The caseworker found out that John's needs were not being met, and that he was being neglected and abused. APS also reported the caregiver to the police. The police got involved because there was evidence that the caregiver had committed fraud and financial exploitation.

Options for help

APS has a statewide telephone number that anyone can use to report suspected abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of an adult with disabilities. APS agencies use these reports to prevent further harm to the abused, neglected, or exploited person. In order to make a report, any interested person can call the APS Hotline at 1-866-800-1409.

For more information, see Domestic abuse of adults with disabilities. Call 911 at any time if you think someone has been a victim of a crime, and file a police report.

Month 23

John qualified for free legal help because APS determined that he was being neglected and abused. John’s lawyer worked to recover his assets and to resolve the issue with Jenna’s guardianship. The police also continued to investigate the caregiver. Meanwhile, John still needed help with everyday tasks that the caregiver had been assisting him with. He contacted the Department of Aging Services that helped him initially. The Department found a service to help John with grocery shopping, cooking, and household chores.

Options for help

The Illinois Department on Aging has legal help providers, which provide legal assistance to Illinois residents 60 years of age or older. 

Month 24

The police charged the caregiver with several crimes including fraud and financial exploitation because they found out that the caregiver withdrew a lot of money from John’s account. The caregiver also sold many of his valuables like silverware and china. Once charges were filed, the bank was able to return most of the money.

Options for help

An elderly person or a person with a disability can file a civil lawsuit against the abuser, regardless of whether the abuser has been convicted of a crime. In this case, the abuser may be liable to the senior for the value of the property taken, damages, plus court costs and attorney’s fees. For more information, see Elder abuse information and Elderly crime victims