Each year, older adults in the State of Maine are victimized approximately 14,000 times, according to the Office of the Maine Attorney General. Unfortunately, elder abuse, neglect and exploitation tend to be silent crimes with the vast majority of incidents going unreported because family members, loved ones, or caregivers are most often those who commit the crime.
Moreover, elderly victims are often unable to report the abuse or are too afraid to tell someone about it so it often goes undetected. With a rapidly growing aging population, Maine is likely to see an increase in elder abuse unless greater efforts are made to raise awareness and prevent this hidden crime.
The Maine Elder Justice Partnership includes a number of groups that are working to address the issue of elder abuse in the state. Included in this Partnership are the Maine Attorney General’s Office, Maine Prosecutor's Association, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, AARP Maine, and the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine.
To help address the problem of elder abuse, the Partnership has been implementing a statewide effort to better equip criminal justice professionals who work with seniors through a series of intensive training workshops so these professionals can more easily identify, investigate, and prosecute elder abuse cases. Maine is the first state in the country to deliver this training statewide.
Domestic violence among older couples is another increasingly common form of elder abuse. Unfortunately, most of the domestic violence supports in Maine, like elsewhere in the U.S., focus primarily on younger women and their children and are often not suitable for older victims. In June, the Elder Abuse Institute will be opening a new home in Portland that will be available as a transitional residence for up to 3 elder abuse victims who are in need of a place to live while they are moving from their homes where abuse occurs to safe and permanent housing.
To help raise awareness of the increasing problem of elder abuse in Maine and elsewhere in the world, AARP is asking members to wear purple on June 15th in recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
We also encourage people to report any suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Maine by calling Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404. Reports can be made anonymously and can help to put a voice to this all too often silent crime.