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Elder Abuse: A Community Problem with Community Solutions

No Excuse for Elder Abuse

By Guest Blogger, Betty Balderston, Maine Legal Services for the Elderly

Elder abuse is a growing problem throughout the U.S. and in Maine. Studies show that 11-24 percent of people over the age of 60 experience some form of abuse or neglect each year. Maine is the oldest state in the U.S., and over 30,000 older Mainers are victims of elder abuse.  According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, nearly 90 percent of abusers are family members.

All of us know elderly people. They may be our parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues or neighbors. Perhaps they’re members of community organizations or local faith communities. When you think of nine older people in your life, is one of them a victim of elder abuse?

The National Council on Elder Abuse provides the following Red Flags to watch for:

  • Sudden changes in appearance: poor hygiene, dressed improperly, weight loss
  • Sudden changes in personality: increased anxiety, fearfulness and/or depression
  • Uncommunicative and unresponsive
  • Visible injuries
  • A change in routine: no longer attending events enjoyed in the past
  • Social isolation or not being allowed visitors
  • Sudden inability to meet financial obligations
  • Going without needed things
  • Conflicts or problems with caregivers

Watch and listen. If you believe someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, do something!

  • Call 911 if you’re worried about immediate danger.
  • Talk with the individual about your concerns.
  • Report your concerns to Adult Protective Services at 1-800-624-8404.
  • Help the individual call Legal Services for the Elderly at 1-800-750-5353.
  • Contact the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence at 1-866-4HELP.
  • Contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 1-800-871-7741.
  • Contact the Area Agencies on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.
  • Gather information from the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention at

There is no wrong choice in who to contact.  If you do something, you’re doing the right thing!


If you’d like to learn more about elder abuse, consider attending any of the following presentations by Betty Balderston.  Please contact the program you’re interested in attending to register:

September 11, 10:00-11:30 a.m., Houlton Adult Ed (207-621-3100)

September 11, 1:00-2:00 p.m., SAGE, University of ME-Presque Isle (207-768-9502)

September 11, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Madawaska Adult Ed (207-728-6314)

September 12, 10:00-11:00 a.m., St. John Valley Senior College (207-834-3536)

September 14, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Bath Adult Ed (207-443-8255)

September 18, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Gardiner Adult Ed (207-582-3774)

September 19, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Thorndike Adult Ed (207-568-3426)

September 20, 7:00-8:00 p.m., Oxford Hills Adult Ed (207-743-8842)

September 21, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Western Mountains Senior College (207-824-2136)

September 22, 1:00-1:50 p.m., Common Ground Fair

September 26, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Fairfield Adult Ed (207-453-4200)

September 27, 7:00-8:00 p.m., Buckfield Adult Ed (207-743-8842)

September 28, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Mechanic Falls Adult Ed (207-345-3217)

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