Elder Abuse Awareness Day

There are roughly 14,000 cases in Maine annually, 80 percent of which go unreported, because as stated by the Department of Justice, 90 percent of abuse is perpetrated by a family member or caregiver and the victim doesn’t want that person, their abuser, to go to jail.

Some seniors have no one else to care for them and are fearful that if the family member leaves, they will have to go to a nursing home. And many are embarrassed that their loved ones could do such a thing.

It is important to note that domestic violence doesn’t end at age 60. It just changes its face and becomes elder abuse which adds some interesting facets to the issue itself.

Fifteen percent of all cases investigated include some form of financial exploitation. Seniors can also be exploited sexually and emotionally. Today’s world is high-tech and fast-paced and seniors have been set aside. This mentality makes them a prime target for abuse and financial exploitation is the crime of the 21st century.

The National Center on Elder Abuse offers the following as warning signs of elder abuse:

Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may indicate physical abuse neglect, or mistreatment.

Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.

Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.

Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.

Behavior, such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.

Our goal is to provide continuing education and greater public awareness of the problem. On-going outreach to seniors and open and honest communication about elder abuse with all Maine communities can bring it out of the shadows and help put an end to this heinous occurrence.

Abuse has a devastating impact on lives and seniors who have been mistreated are three times more likely to die in the next decade.

If you have a cause to suspect that elder abuse is happening to someone you know, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404 or Legal Services for the Elderly at 1-800-750-5353. All calls are confidential.

Senior Spotlight: Preventing Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse Fact Sheet