Many New Illinois Laws Aimed at Protecting the Elderly

Recently, Illinois took a step in the right direction, passing a number of laws meant to protect the rights of senior citizens in the state. Sadly, it is not uncommon for the elderly to be mistreated by those entrusted with their care, with reports of neglect and abuse in nursing homes being particularly widespread.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the bills into law, stating, “Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them. Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger.”

Here are some of the highlights from the new laws:

  • Financial exploitation: After an individual is charged with financially exploiting a senior citizen, the prosecutor on the case may now file a motion to freeze his or her assets. The law will protect any money stolen from the victim, preventing the accused from spending it before the lawsuit concludes.
  • Increased communication: Reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation made by those who work with the elderly will now be accessible to fire and police departments.
  • Online reporting: Those who provide care for the elderly may now file reports of abuse and neglect with the Illinois Department on Aging online. The same privacy rules will apply to information submitted on the Web.
  • Additional training: Probation officers will now be required to complete training courses to ensure they are able to recognize signs of crimes against the elderly. Further, they will be trained on how to respond when they become aware of potential crimes being committed.
  • New lifting requirements: Often, vulnerable adults in nursing homes are unable to move on their own. One of the laws dictates new requirements for nursing home staff to ensure residents are lifted in a safe manner. The law provides that the staff must receive training on the new methods and must allow more feedback from the residents as to how they are lifted.

Source: Examiner, “Governor Quinn signs new laws to protect Illinois seniors,” John Presta, July 29, 2012.