Public & Private Safety Workgroup

Nearly 1 in 9 older adults will experience abuse and neglect, most likely at the hands of a family member or caregiver. Often, older victims don’t report because of shame, reliance on the abuser or fear of being institutionalized. Financial exploitation is a growing and serious form of elder abuse that is often perpetrated against older adults who are isolated and lonely. This form of abuse is on the rise particularly as older adults leave their communities and support systems behind to live and access services in more urban areas.

Community Based Solutions:

  • Build connections between first responders, health care and community organizations to better respond to the needs of older adults. Ensure all people who regularly come in contact with older adults recognize red flags for elder abuse, understand how to respond, and know where to refer for support. Develop locally available mutual training opportunities on elder abuse for volunteers, first responders, direct care and health care workers who work with older adults.
  • Increase the number of local TRIADS in Maine*. TRIADS are local partnerships between law enforcement, community based organizations and older adults that work to prevent elder abuse by promoting safety initiatives aimed at decreasing isolation and increasing connection to community and supports.
  • Address scams and frauds. Identify and leverage formal and informal communication systems to immediately disseminate public safety alerts related to new scams and frauds.
  • Initiate and expand wellness checks by first responders or trained community volunteers. Survey law enforcement and community organizations to discover models for wellness checks, share the information broadly and encourage other communities to adopt the models.
  • Create user-friendly financial exploitation planning tools for aging adults and their caregivers.
  • Train first responders (fire, rescue, police) on recognizing and appropriately dealing with people who have dementia.*

Legislative Solutions:

  • Ensure privacy protections and safety protocols for emerging technology that can be invasive or invite exploitation.
  • Emerging technology can provide significant advantages to monitoring areas like health, finance, and security, but it can also create vulnerabilities and opportunities for exploitation.
  • Our privacy laws should be in line with growing technological integration of telemedicine, electronic medical records and telehealth technologies.
  • Strengthen criminal laws related to financial exploitation of older adults.*
  • Ensure legal protections for people living with dementia.
  • Broaden the scope of the Computer Crimes Unit to investigate computer based financial exploitation, which often targets older adults.

* The Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention or another entity is already actively working on the idea. The working group that forms to address these issues will work in partnership with Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention leadership.