The Maine Elder Justice Roadmap is the state's first plan to focus on preventing and responding to abuse and neglect of older Mainers.
Gov. Janet Mills on Friday released the state’s first plan focused on combating abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Mainers.
The Maine Elder Justice Roadmap is the work of a 21-member group of public- and private-sector experts formed by Mills in 2019 with support from the John T. Gorman Foundation and the Muskie School of Public Service.
The Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership has recommended strategic priorities to better prevent, detect and respond to abuse that threatens the physical, emotional and financial well-being of Maine seniors.
The recommendations call for additional support services and legal aid for victims, greater public education and professional training to recognize and address abuse, and increased data collection and evaluation of public policy impacts.
“The abuse of vulnerable people, especially our older citizens, is an insidious crime that has no place in Maine,” Mills said in a written statement. “I look forward to reviewing these recommendations and advancing our efforts to combat elder abuse.”
One in 10 adults age 60 and older experience abuse each year – about 40,000 Mainers, according to the National Elder Mistreatment Study. Often, the abuse is committed by a trusted person, including intimate partners, adult children and other family members.
“Tens of thousands of older Mainers experience elder abuse every year,” said Jaye Martin, partnership co-chair and executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly in Augusta. “This Roadmap identifies actions that can be taken to address this crisis and improve Maine’s response to elder abuse and exploitation.”
As a former district attorney and state attorney general, Mills prosecuted crimes against older Mainers. In 2014, she convened a task force of prosecutors, police, court officials and lawmakers that drafted a report on ways to combat financial abuse of seniors.
In 2019, Gov. Mills also signed into law L.D. 566, which requires certain professionals who suspect financial exploitation of seniors to report their concerns to Adult Protective Services and the state Office of Securities.
“By working together to implement the changes outlined in this Roadmap, public and private sector entities can help decrease the incidence of elder abuse in our state,” said Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, partnership co-chair. “This Roadmap identifies clear priorities that responding organizations can use in the fight against elder abuse.”
A year ago, Mills announced Maine’s plan to fulfill its 2019 designation as an Age-Friendly State by AARP. Maine was the sixth state to be recognized for its efforts to help older residents live well, and more than 100 communities in Maine have been named age-friendly for pursuing similar goals.
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