Maine seniors lost about $28 million to financial exploitation between 2010 and 2016, most often perpetrated by grown children and grandchildren, according to a new report.
The report, released Tuesday by Legal Services for the Elderly and Maine’s Office of Aging and Disability Services, is the first to document the costs associated with the financial exploitation of Maine’s elderly population, according to a news release announcing the report.
The loss was projected even higher, at $74 million, when the compiled data were used to reflect losses experienced across all elderly victims of exploitation, not just those who sought help.
The report, produced by the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, found that in more than 60 percent of reported abuse cases, the perpetrator was the victim’s adult child. The victims were more likely to be 80 or older, female and either widowed, single or divorced, the study found.
“These are ordinary Mainers,” Jaye Martin, executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly, said in the release. “They have worked hard to pay their homes off and always paid their bills on time. You can’t imagine the incredible devastation when someone has their life savings stolen — and there are quite a large number who have had their homes stolen — by someone they know and love.”
After a relative, the next most likely perpetrators were caregivers, family friends or neighbors, the report found.
The report analyzed 205 cases handled by Legal Services for the Elderly, which provides legal representation to victims of exploitation, and 459 cases handled by Maine’s Adult Protective Services, which serves victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation who are incapacitated or dependent.
In the legal services’ cases, the most common reported problem was the loss of a house, followed by the diversion of cash and the withdrawal of funds from a bank account. For victims under the care of adult protective services, the three top reported financial problems were the diversion of cash, followed by failure to pay for nursing facility services and the withdrawal of money from bank accounts.
Martin on Tuesday urged more funding for legal service providers, police and prosecutors to better prevent the financial exploitation of Maine’s elderly.
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