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To the Editor:

It’s not too late to honor World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) by recognizing and fighting abuse at its earliest stage.

Abuse is a process. Typically, it starts with a “bad actor” relative swooping in to exploit the family crisis created by an elder’s medical or homecare emergency. The abusive relative lies to, frightens and pressures the already medically traumatized elder. Longstanding family caregivers are simultaneously attacked to traumatize, paralyze, then strip them of their disabled elder’s legal proxies. Then, even the closest and most supportive family member can be excluded from the elder’s life.

Such isolation has a goal: It provides the absolute control and secrecy necessary for the bad actor to do what he or she wants. Almost always, that is to steal assets. Physical neglect results naturally when the only person with access to the disabled elder is not particularly interested in the elder’s care.

In some cases, there really is no one but the abuser who wants to be in the elder’s life. But in many other cases, “good-actor” family members want to continue helping and protecting their elder. But they can’t even protect themselves from the withering, one-sided war being waged on them through the manipulation of their vulnerable senior—and the senior’s misappropriated legal powers.

Illinois must work with families to stop elder isolation before it proceeds to the plundering of assets and physical abuse and neglect.

Sandy Baksys

Springfield

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