DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Department on Aging is pushing communities to keep an eye out for potential abuse of older adults and those with disabilities.

The Illinois Department on Aging reports that elder abuse in order of prevalence includes financial exploitation, emotional abuse, passive neglect, self-neglect, physical abuse, willful deprivation, confinement and sexual abuse, according to a release from Hospital Sisters Health System.

“Abuse can happen to anyone,” says Naeem Jatoi, MD, internal medicine and geriatric physician with HSHS Medical Group. “No matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, ethnicity or cultural background. It can happen in many places. The people involved could be their own family members, strangers, healthcare personnel, caregivers – even friends. It’s a common occurrence. No one is really immune.”

Abuse is more common for elderly women. People with underlying mental impairments are also at risk.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Being socially isolated
  • Requiring assistance – either physical or financial
  • Being cared for by a person who abuses drugs or alcohol

Often family or friends may be concerned about abuse of a loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Dr. Jatoi points out a few signs that could indicate physical abuse: “Unintentional weight loss could be a sign deprivation of nutrition. Unexplained dehydration, especially if they do not have a medical condition that causes it. Pressure sores usually happen if you are sitting or lying in place for long periods of time. If you are around caregivers, that ideally should not happen. Any signs that don’t make sense. Because abuse is so rampant, you have to keep a high level of awareness to identify those who are being abused.”

To report abuse, call the Adult Protective Services of Illinois 24 Hour Hotline at 1-866-800-1409.