Letter: Pandemic heightens needs to protect our elders

Letter: Pandemic heightens needs to protect our elders

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Virus visitor bans renew interest in nursing home cameras

This Dec. 2017 photo provided by Julie Griffith shows Julie Griffith, left, with her mother Mabel Porter, center, and Griffith's husband, David, as they pose for a photo at a nursing home in Oregon, Ohio. The Griffiths are among those advocating to allow cameras inside long-term care facilities. Visitation bans at nursing homes because of the coronavirus have sparked renewed interest in legislation to allow the cameras.(Julie Griffith/Julie Griffith via AP)

With the pandemic ongoing and renewed calls for justice and reform, it is imperative that we confront ongoing worldwide problems. One of the vastly under-identified and under-reported problems is the mistreatment of elders and persons with disabilities.

The Illinois Department on Aging is on pace to respond to more than 21,000 reports of abuse of adults 60 years of age and older, and persons 18 to 59 with a disability this fiscal year. As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet we fail to live up to this promise when we allow members of our society to be abused or neglected.

We all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect — to feel safe and secure, free from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, we know abuse directly coincides with social isolation. And with the ongoing pandemic, many people are forced to stay in dangerous situations because they have nowhere else to go.

If you are a victim of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation — or suspect that someone you know is a victim — call the statewide 24-hour abuse hotline at 1-866-800-1409.

I encourage all of us to educate ourselves on abuse: how we can recognize the signs, provide intervention and stop it from happening. We must, as a community, work together to make a difference in the lives of the older adults and persons with disabilities in our communities.

Paula Basta • Springfield, Ill.

Director, Illinois Department on Aging

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