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What rights do elders in long-term care & in the community have?


Under Federal and State of Illinois laws, elder community members and those elders residing in long-term care facilities have the right to be treated with respect and to live with dignity free from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological or financial, and may be perpetrated by a caregiver such as a family member or staff at a long-term care facility.

It is important to keep in mind that elder rights are human rights and under the Illinois Human Rights Act and Federal Civil Rights Laws one is prohibited from discriminating against elders based on their race, color, gender, national origin, marital status, age and religion. This is particularly important for those who are on Medicare to understand that one has certain guaranteed rights and protections. Furthermore, elders have a right to make their own decisions about healthcare and be as independent as possible. If an elder needs assistance then they have rights to receive quality care.

Illinois' Department on Aging has programs in place such as the long-term care Ombudsman Program and the Legal Services Development Program to look out for the interests of elders. The Ombudsman Program protects the rights and promotes the quality of life of those living in long-term care facilities. The Legal Services Program provides legal services and legal advice on elder abuse issues. These two programs are focused on elders in long-term care facilities.

However, in order to include elders in the community, in 2013 Illinois expanded the Department on Aging's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program, which is now referred to as the Adult Protective Services Program. The intention of expanding the existing program was, in addition to addressing elder abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities, to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders living in the Illinois communities. The Adult Protective Services Program addresses allegations of abuse and neglect that happen in the community at large.

Source: Illinois Department on Aging, "Elder Rights," Accessed Sep. 21, 2015

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