Governor LePage and State Officials Highlight Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

May 29, 2014

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 29, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage this morning joined law enforcement officials, elder abuse advocates and administration officials from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation and Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies to focus on Elder Abuse Awareness Day in the State of Maine.

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 issued a proclamation designating June 15th “Maine Elder Abuse Awareness Day.” The Governor signed the proclamation Thursday morning in the Cabinet Room, which the State’s residents to join this effort by reporting suspected abuse of Maine’s seniors.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is recognized each June 15th throughout the United States and in other countries. Officials are also highlighting an effort by the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention to raise awareness by encouraging businesses and nonprofits to post “No Excuse for Elder Abuse: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15th” on their signage.

“Elder abuse comes in many forms, including emotional, physical, financial,” Governor LePage said. “It can involve neglect, abandonment or the draining of a senior’s monetary assets. Sadly, these crimes are under-reported, leaving too many victims to suffer. The State of Maine has resources and a strong desire to provide assistance, but it’s imperative that more people speak up and report their concerns.”

Commissioner Anne L. Head from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) noted that financial abuse, which includes investment fraud and exploitation, is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year. “Seniors are disproportionately the target of financial exploitation,” Commissioner Head commented. “All too often, the abuse is perpetrated by caregivers, family members or financial advisers.”

Members of Maine law enforcement and others joining Governor LePage included, Sgt. Patrick Hood, Maine State Police; Sheriff Joel Merry, Sagadahoc County; Elizabeth Ward-Saxl, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Jessica Maurer, Maine Area Agencies on Aging; Jaye Martin, Legal Services for the Elderly; Judy Shaw, Securities Administrator (DPFR); Lloyd LaFountain, Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection (DPFR); Lynne Caswell, Office of Aging and Disability Services (DHHS); Jim Martin, Office of Aging and Disability Services (DHHS); and Doreen McDaniel, Adult Protective Services (DHHS).

There are five agencies within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation’s dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse. As examples, Commissioner Head highlighted the Bureau of Financial Institution’s online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions) and the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. The 32 page publication is available free of charge to Maine residents by calling 1-800-332-8529 (1-800-DEBT-LAW). It can also be found at www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Publications”.

The proclamation language is as follows:

WHEREAS, seniors are valued members of our State and it is our collective responsibility to ensure they live safely and with independence and dignity; and

WHEREAS, elder abuse is an ever-increasing problem in today’s society as the growing senior population across socio-economic boundaries is increasingly targeted; and

WHEREAS, there are multiple types of elder abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment and financial exploitation; and

WHEREAS, all forms of elder abuse continue to be vastly underreported to law enforcement officials and to State agencies, with estimates indicating that 1 out of 5 cases or fewer are currently being reported; and

WHEREAS, many agencies of State government, including the Office of Aging and Disability Services, Adult Protective Services, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Department of Public Safety, are actively engaged in elder abuse education, prevention and service delivery; and

WHEREAS, numerous non-profit organizations and community groups are devoted to the protection of seniors, such as the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, the Maine Triads and Elder Abuse Task Forces, the Maine Long-term Care Ombudsman Legal Services for the Elderly, the AARP/Maine, the Area Agencies on Aging, the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, and Volunteers of American Northern New England; and

WHEREAS, Elder Abuse Awareness Day will raise awareness of elder abuse and financial exploitation and will reinforce our universal commitment to protecting seniors in our communities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PAUL R. LEPAGE, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby recognize June 15, 2014 as ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY throughout the State of Maine, and urge all citizens to recognize this observance.