Signs of physical abuse are often explained away by the frailty that comes with old age. As in any situation of abuse, an elderly victim may be reluctant to report physical abuse out of fear of the abuser. The combination of these two factors creates an increasingly dangerous situation for a victim who cannot defend him or herself and who does not have someone to intervene on their behalf. If an elderly person is suffering from physical injury (bruises, welts, scars), has experienced either a drug overdose or a failure to be properly medicated, or is not allowed to be without their caregiver, they might be suffering from physical abuse. Abuse is often perpetrated by a caregiver who is also the spouse or adult child of the elderly person. These domestic violence situations can be incredibly difficult for an elderly person to report due to the complex underlying relationships.
If you suspect that someone is being abused, you should call for help. If the threat of harm is immediate, dial 911.
- If you are not certain that the individual is being abused, but you are concerned about their well-being, contact Adult Protective Services – Office of Aging and Disability Services (Department of Health and Human Services)
Nationwide 24-hour, toll-free: 1-800-624-8404
TTY (24/7) Maine relay 711
Provides and arranges for services to protect incapacitated and dependent adults (age 18 and over) in danger of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Visit the website for the Office of Aging and Disability Services to learn more.
- Legal Services for the Elderly
You can help the elder call the LSE Helpline where they can talk to an attorney and receive free legal assistance. Visit www.mainelse.org to learn more about Legal Services for the Elderly.
- Domestic Violence Helpline
Callers are connected to someone who can listen, offer emotional support and information, help with safety planning, and help deciding what to do next. Visit the website for the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence to find the domestic violence program for your area.
- Maine Suicide Prevention Program - Hotline
If you are concerned about yourself or about someone else, call the crisis hotline. If you are not in Maine, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Visit the website for more information on the Maine Suicide Prevention Program.