The end of June was a busy time for us at H.O.M.E. We were fortunate to host two great events with partners from the community. Here's what we learned from our partners.
On June 27th, Elise Robie from the Center for Disability and Elder Law teamed up with Mayra Gomez from the 24th District’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program to teach our community members about how to prevent financial exploitation and other ways to remain safe in our neighborhoods.
Two days later, we hosted an amazing panel discussion about the 1969 Stonewall Inn Riots and their impact on the LGBT+ rights movement. Our panelists for the Stonewall event were Brendan Yukins (Rape Victim Advocates), Patrick Gourley (CJE), Christian Halvorsen (Senior Voice), and Marti Smith (Senior Voice).
Adult financial exploitation happens often
As we learned from our guest speakers, financial exploitation is a devastating reality for many older adults in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Adult Protective Services (APS) has cited that in FY 2016, 15,924 cases of abuse were reported, more than 50% of which were for financial exploitation.
According to Wood and Lichtenberg, financial exploitation of older adults results in approximately $2.9 billion of losses annually in the United States. Unfortunately, financial exploitation is carried out against vulnerable individuals by those who are in a position of trust or confidence. According to APS statistics, 80% of abusers (of all types) are family members or a spouse of the victim.
Financial exploitation prevention
As both Ms. Robie and Ms. Gomez counseled, it can be extremely difficult to retrieve stolen funds and property, making prevention the strongest line of defense. Here are their tips for preventing financial exploitation:
- Be aware: Individuals often take advantage of older adults by creating a sense of urgency or indicating that there is an immediate need for them to make a payment to help a family member or friend in need.
- Take a step back: Ms. Robie and Ms. Gomez suggest taking a step back from the situation and refusing to feel pressured into parting with funds or other assets by anyone, even a family member.
- Connect with your support group: Having a strong support group can protect individuals by giving them someone to talk to when they are uneasy about a situation or question someone’s motives.
We, at H.O.M.E., strive to be a part of that support group for our residents and keep a watchful eye on their well-being. Learn more about our housing program.
Assistance from the Chicago Police Department
Introducing our residents and neighbors to Ms. Gomez, our neighborhood CAPS representative, allowed us to build a relationship with our local police department and gave us access to a great resource in our community.
One step that Ms. Gomez has already taken to keep an eye on the older adults in our community is to encourage them to apply for a free identification bracelet. The ID bracelets let first responders know about any medical conditions or special concerns that an individual may have and will allow the responders to connect with an individual’s emergency contact person. These bracelets are a great way to make sure that H.O.M.E.’s residents get the best care quickly.
Stonewall Riots Remembrance Event
The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village.
While none of our panelists took part in the riots (and one was not even born when they took place), they all appreciate the impact that the riots had on pushing LGBT+ issues to the forefront in the United States.
Our panelists generously shared their personal stories about how the LGBT+ rights movement changed over the years, where it has succeeded, and where there is still need for change.
What I personally took away from the discussion was the need for each of us to be present and to make our voices heard. Despite being weary and facing the physical challenges that age often brings, all of the panelists recognized the need to be actively involved in the causes that they care about.
As Marti Smith put it, show up and bring (or drag) a friend. Be visible and part of the cause in whatever capacity you are capable of.
These panelists are truly inspiring for members of all generations and if your cause happens to be the same as ours, supporting older adults who want to live independently in a socially-engaged and inclusive manner, please show up and bring (or drag) a friend with you!