I was reading the news this week and was shocked to see an egregious case of elder abuse right in our backyard. Although as an elder law attorney I see cases of elder abuse every day, it is not often enough that they are publicized in the news.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that three siblings in Aurora, Illinois neglected their elderly mother to the point that when medical professionals evaluated her- her leg had to be amputated from Gangrene and a 3-inch deep open wound was found in her back. All three children had a criminal history- ranging from drunk driving records to drug manufacturing.

The article’s author, Erika Wurst, cites the staggering statistics. Wurst writes, “more than 76,000 Illinois residents over the age of 60 are elder abuse victims. However, only 8,000 elderly victims are reported to the Elder Abuse and Neglect Program annually.”

Although in this case, the law has now stepped in to appoint a guardian and ensure this senior is protected, it still raises the question I always pose and have yet to receive an answer: How can we prevent our children from abusing their own parents?

Also, how can we ensure seniors in our community are provided with wellness checks and cases of elder abuse are prevented, or caught before it is too late? Recently, our firm joined a group that is aiming to do just that- ensure seniors who are living independently have the resources and support  to live a healthy life. The Chicago non-profit group is called The Village and they provide vetted volunteer and referral services to older adults such as: housekeeping, home health, wellness evaluations and transportation.

I appreciated this group’s mission because elder abuse can only be solved with a community effort. It takes a team of people: elder law attorneys, guardians,  geriatricians, social workers, nurses, case managers, home health agencies, and more to make sure each seniors well being is protected.