Currently 14% of Maine's population is 65 and older. It is estimated that by 2030, that percentage will increase to 27%. About 60% of our elders are women according to 2000 Census Data.
Each year in Maine, approximately 12,000 seniors are abused (based on 5% of the population 60 years of age and older). It is projected that in five years this number will double. This does not include financial abuse or neglect according to the National Center for on Elder Abuse. We know that victims of abuse are three times more likely to die in the next decade than those in the same age group who have not been victimized. (Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe, May 3, 2004 Keynote Address: "Developing a Community Response to Elder Abuse in Maine.")
It is estimated that approximately only one out of every 14 cases of elder abuse is reported. We know from experience that elders are afraid that if they report the abuse, the little support they have will be gone. (National Center on Elder Abuse, "Trends in Elder Abuse in Domestic Settings.") In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is a family member or caregiver. Often this person is the primary connection the elder has to the community. By reporting abuse, the elder stands to lose his/her sole support.
In the state of Maine, there are no shelter beds for elder victims of abuse. Family shelters often do not meet the needs of elders and therefore hotels become the only viable option for the elder. To say nothing of the trauma of dealing with abuse most possibly by a beloved family member, what follows is a move to an isolated sterile room, which drains away minimal resources.2 The offender knows this reality, and often capitalizes on the elder's fear of being alone or institutionalized.
There is one Elder Abuse Outreach worker (employed by the domestic violence agency) to cover three counties with populations of: 187,000 (York County), 266,000 (Cumberland County), and Sagadahoc County (35,000). With such an expansive and populated region, it is impossible to attend to the myriad needs of the victims in our area. Because family members are the primary abusers, violence focused on elders is often considered family business, and often not treated as a serious crime.
State Government Agencies
- Maine Adult Protective Services
- Maine Long Term Care Ombudsman
- Maine Office of Attorney General
- Maine Office of Elder Services
- Elder Abuse Institute of Maine
- Me. Rev. Stat. Title 22 Health & Welfare, Subtitle 2, Pt. 2, Chpt. 958-A §§ 3470-3493 Adult Protective Services Act
- Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-800-624-8404
- Family Crisis Services: 1-800-874-1973
- Maine Bureau of Elder and Adult Services: Guidelines for Facilities: In Cases of Sexual Abuse of Vulnerable Adults
- The Maine Geriatric Education Center
- Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
- Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging
- Maine Bureau of Elder and Adult Services: 1-800-262-2232