Elder abuse is an 'often overlooked' issue in today’s society but is more wide spread than ever before.
It’s an issue that has effected more than 750,000 Canadian seniors over the last year, in the form of physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse or neglect.
According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is a hidden problem, with one in ten older adults facing abuse worldwide, every month. The numbers are projected to only grow in Ontario, as it faces a demographic shift, with the number of seniors over 65 set to more than double, up to 4.2 million by 2036, according to Ministry of Finance Census Data.
With such shocking statistics, it is important to take action to prevent and assist seniors, who are at risk or are currently being abused.
Some warning signs that a senior may be undergoing abuse include, changes in mood or behaviour, unexplained injuries, neglect, lack of hygiene, failure to meet financial obligations, and changes in their living arrangements.
If any of the warning signs are present it is important to talk to the at-risk senior, and express the concerns you may have. Keeping the lines of communication open and ensuring the senior isn’t isolated can be key in preventing abuse. Ask the person how they are doing, if they’re having any trouble with anything, if there is someone you can put them in touch with that may be able to help them, and what you can do to help.
If an older adult tells you they are being abused, be patient, listen carefully and don’t jump to a conclusion. Do not question what they are telling you, support, and believe in them. You may be the first person who they have shared their experience with, so try to understand what is going on. It can be especially difficult, to continue do so, if the perpetrator is a nice person or family friend.
Do not deny what the senior is telling you, if you choose to deny what is going on or not listen to them, it can isolate the individual who is being abused even further. Do not judge the senior, express sympathy, or tell them what to do. Even if you don’t agree with their judgement, tell them you care about them and offer them support.
Confronting the perpetrator yourself could put you and the person being abused in trouble. Instead, educate yourself on the resources available, and encourage the person being abused to seek help.
If you or a loved one has any problems or concerns with their long-term care, they can call the Long-Term Care ACTION Line, at 1-866-876-7658.
For verbal support, when dealing with abuse, call Victims Services, at 1-888-579-2888. Elder abuse is never okay, and should always be reported, to not only protect yourself, but prevent it from happening to other people.