Three suburbs join to protect seniors from abuse, neglect

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In an effort to improve the quality of life of senior citizens, three suburbs have formed an intergovernmental agreement with Calumet Township to form an Adult Protective Services Program.

The three suburbs, all within Calumet Township, are Blue Island, Calumet Park and Riverdale.

According to the agreement, the program is designed to established a “professional uniformed response for at-risk and high-risk senior citizens.”

“The purpose is to coordinate services between governments, who are all dealing with dwindling resources, to prevent senior abuse, neglect and provide wellness checks during inclement weather,” said Calumet Township Supervisor Robert Rita, who also is a state representative.

Rita said his concern was heightened during the past winter when heavy snows and below-zero temperatures forced many seniors to be confined to their homes.

“We often have seniors coming to our township programs who suddenly weren’t showing up, and I wanted to make sure we had a coordinated effort among the municipalities and the township to look in on these people and help them out if we could,” Rita said.

Rita said he drew inspiration for the program from the Blue Island Police Department, which has created a post of elderly abuse officer to deal with the problems of seniors.

“One of the reasons we created the program was that we have a large percentage of our population that is seniors,” Deputy Police Chief Michael Cornell said. “We wanted to intervene where there were problems before it gets to the point where it’s drastic.”

Jason Slattery, the department’s elderly services officer, attended a special training seminar hosted by the Illinois attorney general’s office on scams and other problems plaguing the elderly, Cornell said.

“The fact is that the Illinois Department of Aging and Catholic Charities do a great job of assisting senior citizens, but both of them are straining under the burden and having a difficult time providing enough resources to help everyone in need,” he said.

As part of its program, Blue Island works with Metro South Hospital to identify seniors suffering from abuse and neglect to provide them the assistance they need.

That program, Rita said, will be expanded to the police departments in Calumet Park and Riverdale.

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