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June 9, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar

 

In Highlighting Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Governor LePage and State Officials Urge Mainers to Report Suspected Cases of Abuse

 

Governor Paul R. LePage and officials at the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation and Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies and Maine organizations, are 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 States residents to join this effort by reporting suspected abuse of Maines seniors.

The abuse of seniors is among the most under-reported crimes, and its consequences have very serious consequences for its victims, their families and our communities, Governor LePage said. Sadly, the perpetrator is often a relative or caregiver, making it more difficult for the senior to come forward. Each of us has a responsibility to report 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 highlighted the Departments five agencies are dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse. She pointed out the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Departments Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529 or at www.Credit.Maine.gov under Publications. She also highlighted the many resources available through the Bureau of Financial Institutions online Consumer Library (www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions).

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who serves on the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the frequency of investment fraud and the importance of reporting suspected cases. Of special concern, is investment fraud of seniors, Administrator Shaw said. Victims can lose their entire life-savings very quickly, with little opportunity to recover financial stability. 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 Commissioner of Programs at the Department of Health and Human Services 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 recognizing the signs of abuse, are essential to ensuring that victims get the help they need, Hamilton said. The Departments new Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) has been developed to respond to the growing problem of financial exploitation, to better serve older victims and to work closely with our community partners to develop a coordinated community response to elder abuse.

Signs that an older adult may be vulnerable to possible abuse or exploitation may include:

 Social isolation 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  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  Senior appears fearful or depressed  Senior is accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective or dominating

A copy of the Governors proclamation accompanies this news release. A partial listing of state agencies that can assist seniors, caregivers and others who wish to report possible cases of abuse is below.

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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

Legal Services for the Elderly: www.mainelse.org 1-800-750-5353

Maine Area Agencies on Aging: List of regional agencies with full contact information: www.maine.gov/dhhs/oes/resource/aaa.htm

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 or 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

Last Updated: April 5, 2019 1:01 PM