PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, local leaders are putting a spotlight on the issue and said the pandemic increased opportunities to take advantage of an already isolated population.
The Center for Prevention of Abuse responds to Adult Protective Service reports for Peoria and surrounding counties.
Kevin Nowlan, chief operating officer at the Center for Prevention of Abuse, said one in six adults will become a victim of elder abuse.
Nowlan said elder abuse is underreported, and only one in 24 cases are actually reported. Most often, the abuse is carried out by a spouse, older children or other family member.
“You can imagine it’s got a huge impact on our community and our neighbors, so it’s important that they bring it up and make it known, so that people can keep it in mind when they are talking to family and friends,” he said.
Nowlan said and the pandemic increased vulnerability and opportunities to exploit an already isolated population. He said from June 2020 to June 2021, they responded to 700 cases, but expects the actual number to be much higher. Approximately 22% are cases of financial exploitation.
He said APS is a report-driven department, so they rely on those reports to go and check out suspected cases of elder abuse.
“They don’t have people coming to the house, whether that be Meals on Wheels, or family or friends, or neighbors showing up, and that’s less opportunity for the abuse to be recognized and then a report to be made,” Nowlan said. “With isolation comes opportunity for abuse, and without somebody to recognize that and intervene or attempt to intervene, then those are opportunities missed as far as ending abuse,” he said.
The Center for Prevention of Abuse Crisis Hotline is 1-800-559-SAFE.
To report elder abuse to a dedicated APS Hotline, call 309-637-3905.