State Officials Urge Mainers to Report Suspected Cases of Elder Abuse
Governor Paul R. LePage joined officials at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation and Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies and Maine organizations, in focusing attention on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day--recognized each June 15th throughout the United States and in other countries.
As he has done with the issue of domestic violence, Governor LePage is encouraging greater awareness of elder abuse. To highlight what is sometimes referred to as the ‘crime of the 21st century,’ because of its increasing prevalence and devastating impacts, the Governor recently issued a proclamation designating June 15th “Maine Elder Abuse Awareness Day.” The proclamation urges the State’s residents to join this effort by reporting suspected abuse of Maine’s seniors.
“Elder abuse has devastating consequences for its victims and for our communities,” Governor LePage said. “Too often, the perpetrator is a relative or caregiver, making it more difficult for the senior to come forward. Each of us has a responsibility to speak up on their behalf by reporting concerns about potential abuse.”
Commissioner Anne L. Head from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation noted that financial abuse is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its U.S. victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year. The Commissioner explained that the Department’s five agencies are dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse. She highlighted the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529 or at www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Publications”. The Commissioner also highlighted the many resources available through the Bureau of Financial Institution’s online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions).
Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who also co-chairs the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the frequency of investment fraud and the importance of reporting suspected cases. “Investment fraud of seniors is an area of particular concern,” Administrator Shaw said. “Victims can quickly see their entire life-savings depleted with little opportunity to recover financial stability. Losses through financial abuse can also lead to physical and emotional health problems.” For investment-related questions or concerns, the Office of Securities within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation can be reached at 1-877-624-8551 and at www.investors.maine.gov.
Ricker Hamilton, Deputy Director from the Department of Health and Human Services and a national expert on the prevention of elder abuse stressed that while it is essential for suspected abuse to be reported to the Maine APS 24-hour hotline as quickly as possible, recognition of the signs that a senior may be a victim of abuse is also critical. “Understanding which seniors in our communities may be especially vulnerable to elder abuse and financial exploitation and spotting the red flags of abuse are essential to ensuring that victims get the help they need,” Hamilton said.
Signs that an older adult may be vulnerable to possible abuse or exploitation may include:
- Social isolation, depression, and/or recent loss of a spouse or partner
- Recent decline in health or in the ability for self-care
- Lack of familiarity with financial accounts and/or overly complicated finances
- Dependence on another to provide everyday care or essential services
- Willingness to listen to telemarketing calls or respond to solicitations from unverified charities or businesses
Red flags of possible victimization include:
- Senior has injuries that are not adequately explained
- Change in appearance or poor hygiene
- Senior is missing checks, account statements or documentation regarding finances
- Running out of money at the end of the month or excessive anxiety about finances
- Senior is fearful or depressed
- Senior is accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective or dominating
Partial List of State Agencies and Organizations in Maine providing information, services and education on elder abuse, including financial exploitation:
- Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads 1-800-262-2232 or 207-287-9200
- Adult Protective Services: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging/aps/ Hotline: 1-800-624-8404
- Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation: (Five Agencies Offering a Wide Range of Assistance to Seniors and Caregivers) www.maine.gov/pfr
- Office of Securities: 1-877-624-8551 (Investment Questions of Concerns) www.investors.maine.gov
- Bureau of Financial Institutions: 1-800-965-5235 (Banking Questions or Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions
- Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection: 1-800-332-8529 (Credit, Foreclosure, General Financial Scam Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/consumercredit
- Bureau of Insurance: 1-800-300-5000 (Insurance-related Questions or Concerns) www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance
- Office of Professional and Occupational Licensing: 207-624-8603 (Questions or Concerns Related to Licensed Professionals) www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing
- Maine Area Agencies on Aging: List of regional agencies with full contact information: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm
- Legal Services for the Elderly: www.mainelse.org 1-800-750-5353
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