AUGUSTA – Elderly abuse in Maine is on the increase again this year.
Most of the increase is attributed to financial abuse.
You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers. There’s no excuse for elder abuse. Yes, people who deal with elder abuse on a daily basis say you can help stop it. Whether it’s financial, emotional or physical abuse, there are ways to help put an end to it.
“If we see a change in a neighbor or a church member or a club member in the way they’re behaved for a long time we should be concerned that something is going on,” said Jaye Martin, executive director of Maine’s Legal Services for the Elderly.
In fact, Martin said there’s been a 24 percent increase in the number of financial abuse cases it has handled this year compared with 2015. Relatively speaking, she said, that’s a small percentage as she believes many cases of abuse go unreported.
“I think there’s fear. I actually think there’s just a real sense of shame. I think people also don’t understand how common the problem is. So they think they might they might be the only ones who have ever been tricked by a family member,” Martin said during a Monday morning interview.
While financial abuse is the most prevalent, it’s not the only form of elder abuse.
“No one type of abuse happens in isolation. So, if there’s financial exploitation going on, there’s almost certainly emotional abuse, often physical abuse. And also neglect is something that we’ll see in the exploitation cases as the money’s diverted. the money’s not there to pay for the basic necessities” she said.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services also offers an option for elders seeking help. The number for Adult Protective Services is 1-800-524-8404.
“When someone realizes a family member is taking advantage of them, it’s very hard to talk to anyone about that,” said Martin.