It Happens. We’re Here.
- By 2035, 1 in 5 Albertans will be a senior.
- According to the 2015 RMWB census, there were over 13,000 residents over the age of 50.
- We are all growing older every day.
It’s time to learn about elder abuse.
What is Elder Abuse?
A single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm and distress to an older person. This includes:
Financial, Emotional/Psychological, Physical, Sexual and Neglect.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can take several forms, often with more than one type of abuse occurring at the same time for individuals. National and provincial statistics indicate that the two most identified and reported types of elder abuse are financial and psychological. It is often divided into the five categories: financial, psychological or emotional, physical, sexual, and neglect.
This is “the misuse of an older person’s funds or property through fraud, trickery, theft or force.” It can include:
- limiting a senior’s access to their finances
- standard of living not in accordance with income
- the misuse of money or property
- frauds/scams targeted at seniors
- convincing an older person to buy a product or give away money
- stealing money or possessions
- misusing bank, credit cards and joint banking accounts
- forging a signature on pension cheques or legal documents
- misusing a power of attorney
Possible Indicators: Unpaid bills, lack of food, rent not being paid, theft of property (Missing jewelry or personal possessions), unusual activity in bank accounts, confused about their finances, limiting of access to their own bank accounts, forged signatures on financial documents.
Stay Informed to Protect Yourself
Any older adult can become a victim of elder abuse regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, income or education. Although there is limited data about elder abuse in Canada and throughout the world, it is estimated that over 8% of older adults in Canada are likely to experience abuse. It is believed that many cases of elder abuse go unreported.
Staying informed and knowing your rights can help you protect yourself. Abuse happens when one person hurts or mistreats another. Remember:
Of older adults in Canada
are likely to experience abuse.
Elder abuse occurs when the abuser uses their position of power in a way that frightens or distresses the older person. This happens because the abuser wants to intimidate (terrorize), isolate (separate the individual from friends or family members), dominate (control, restrain) or extract financial gain.
Older adults are often dependent on the abuser for some assistance such as grocery shopping, driving to appointments, helping with their banking, or general household duties. Dependency tends to increase the risk of becoming victimized.
Older adults can also be victims of frauds and scams that may be occurring within their community including unscrupulous salesmen, internet fraud, telephone scams, etc. If someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911, stay with the senior and offer support and reassurance until help arrives.
In many cases it is a spouse, family member, paid caregiver, friend, or landlord. who is committing a crime against an older adult. It occurs in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust. Mental health and addiction can be factor.
A few facts about abuse
There is limited data about elder abuse in Canada and worldwide as it is highly unreported.
It affects any senior regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, education, or income.
Financial abuse and emotional abuse are the two most frequently identified and reported types of elder abuse.
Approximately 25% of crimes against older adults are committed by family members, usually a spouse or adult child.
What you can do to help
• Learn about elder abuse
• Recognize the signs of abuse
• Share your concerns with the older adult
• Be patient, listen carefully and don’t judge or jump to conclusions
• Encourage them to seek help and respect their decision
• Don’t confront the abuser
• Know where to refer for help
• Check back with the older adult
Barriers to Getting Help
- Love for the abuser
- They are a close family member who needs help (ie. addictions or mental health)
- Hope for change and believe things will get better
- Fear of losing relationships with family members, especially grandchildren
- Fear of being institutionalized
- Fear of losing a caregiver
- Being unable to report due to frailty or cognitive impairment
- Sense of hopelessness- the abuse has been going on for many years
- Shame- it’s often a family member
- Guilt- Senior thinks it is their fault
- Fearful of authority figures or systems
- Unaware of resources, or think that nothing can be done
Reach out and ask for help if you are experiencing abuse.
If you think you are experiencing any form of elder abuse, ask for help from someone you trust. This may include family members, friends, caregiver, health care providers, social services, seniors’ centres, police, legal professionals and/or members of faith communities.
If you are being abused and in need of immediate assistance.
Call the police at 911 for emergency assistance.
If someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
Stay with the senior and offer support and reassurance until help arrives.
Download and print a copy of these resources from the Wood Buffalo Elder Abuse Network ( WBEAN ) to learn more about the signs of elder abuse, the facts, and how to reach out for help.