For several months, I have received complaints from or about the mistreatment of seniors/residents in one of two Evanston senior housing facilities owned by an Evanston church. Elderly residents complained of being mistreated and threatened with being evicted and begged that their names not be given for fear of retaliation.  I brought their concerns to the Commission On Aging and to the minister and supervisor of the facilities in October.

Residents complained about the facility’s community room often being locked and the room’s bathroom being locked when the room was open.  For a while after the October meeting, residents said the community room was open, but they then complained that the room was locked during the holiday week, a time when residents might use the room for gatherings.

Week before last, I learned that one resident, who had complained of harassment and threats of eviction, had moved out.  During my conversation with this person, I learned that a problem had arisen when Meals-At-Home (MAH) tried to deliver a meal to a resident.  I spoke to that resident and learned that the MAH person was not allowed to go into the residential area and was made to wait in the lobby because the resident was not there.  This was not how other facilities treated MAH staff delivering meals to residents temporarily out of the building.

Because of space, I cannot include many other complaints in this article.  One resident labeled some of the complaints “elder abuse.”  A person who works with seniors recommends that state/federal ombudsperson positions be created to advocate for residents in senior housing just as there are state/federal ombudsperson positions created through the Illinois Department on Aging and the Federal Older Americans Act to advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. There is no excuse for mistreating the elderly. A moral test.

“It was once said that the moral test of government [people] is how that government (people) treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” (Hubert H. Humphrey, 1911-78; politician, U.S. vice-president under President Lyndon Johnson, 1965-69)

Amen. I will write to our government officials, urging them to create ombudsperson positions to advocate for residents in senior housing.  How about you?

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...