SYCAMORE – Tom Scott wasn’t always looking out for the elderly in the DeKalb County area.
In his 27 years working for the Sycamore Police Department, Scott was looking out for a whole community. The 54-year-old Sycamore resident served as a community service coordinator, a school resource officer, D.A.R.E. instructor and more. All the roles he served at the police department helped him do the job he does now as an elder abuse investigator.
For the past five years, Scott has been taking calls concerning abuse and neglect among senior citizens for Elder Care Services, located on 330 Grove Street in DeKalb. Investigators like him will take in calls for situations such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation and financial exploitation.
In early August, Scott was named one of four nominees for 2013 Outstanding Elder Abuse Caseworker by the Illinois Department of Aging. Scott has lived everywhere in the county from Somonauk to DeKalb to Sycamore.
Daily Chronicle reporter Felix Sarver talked with him about his work protecting senior citizens and adults with disabilities.
Q: How were you able to become one of the nominees for 2013 Outstanding Elder Abuse Caseworker?
A: My supervisor [Elder Care Services Executive Director] Tara Culotta nominated me for the award ... I think it had to do with work achievement in the field of working and providing service to those in need and in collaboration with other agencies that [serve] seniors and adults with disabilities. I look at it as more of a recognition for our agency ... I couldn’t be effective with our members of our community without my co-workers here at Elder Care Services.
Q: Why did you decide to work for Elder Care Services in DeKalb?
A: I enjoy working with the adult population and in my experience as a police officer I felt that there were seniors and adults with disabilities that needed assistance. But the calls for concern for them were underreported and it’s rewarding to me to feel like I’m making a difference.
Q: Why is it important to offer services for senior citizens?
A: Because there are persons in our community at all ages that need an advocate. Sometimes they may not know who to turn to. They may be in a vulnerable situation ... adults with disabilities and seniors who may be vulnerable then have our office in DeKalb to turn to for assistance.
Q: Do you have a personal connection with the work you do?
A: Yeah, I just kind of look at it as I treat others out there as I would like for my own parents to be treated if they needed some assistance. I’m also a grandfather now too so I feel like I can relate to the different generations out there and feel that it is important to get the word out that you know adults with disabilities and seniors out there have a right to live happy, healthy normal lives.
Q: How can people help senior citizens and adults with disabilities?
A: First of all, just in their day-to-day activity be respectful and helpful to seniors and adults with disabilities. Treat them with courtesy and respect and offer any assistance if they look like they need it. If they see someone that may be in a vulnerable position or may be neglected or at risk of harm that they would call our office (815-758-6550) ... We follow confidentiality regulations so any calls that come to us are considered confidential.