Whether your story is similar to John's or not, know that help is available now. You are not alone.
Learn more about help for elder abuse and neglect victims:
- Adult Protective Services
- Agencies and organizations serving seniors
- Hiring in-home help
- Giving someone power of attorney for property
- Creating a living will
- Making decisions for an adult
- Guardianship of an adult
Click or tap to see which help best meets your needs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.