Cutler Institute

The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Investigations of Elder Abuse

Kimberly Snow, in the Disability and Aging program area at the Cutler Institute, was awarded a contract for $60,802 from the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMHS) to investigate the impact of the opioid crisis on investigations of elder abuse. Jennifer Pratt and Stuart Bratesman are also part of the research team.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is an increased frequency of elder abuse with some form of opioid involvement, either in the perpetrator or the victim. At this time, there is no database tracking this type of information, but it is often recorded in the case notes of elder abuse investigations.

The research team will be collecting this qualitative data from case notes documented in the Maine Adult Protective Services Information System for investigations opened in 2015 through 2018. They will be documenting the type of involvement, type of abuse(s), length of investigation compared to the average length of investigation all cases, as well as demographic information on the victims. They will also identify "hot spots" of opioid involvement in cases around the state. The team will also describe best practices for opioid-involved elder abuse
investigations as they often present complex challenges for Adult Protective Services (APS) investigators. SAMHS and APS will be able to use the results of this study to inform service development and agency response for these types of investigations.