Seniors built this province, and they continue to serve as pillars in our communities. They are the parents, grandparents, friends, neighbours, colleagues, volunteers, wisdom-granters and storytellers who play indispensable roles in our lives. Seniors should be cherished members of our families and communities but, sadly, that is not always the case.
Elder abuse is a serious issue in our province. It is estimated one in 10 Alberta seniors is a victim of elder abuse, but any number is too many. It breaks my heart to know any of Alberta’s seniors are prey to abuse that can be financial, sexual, physical, or emotional in nature. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made a difficult situation worse by increasing seniors’ risk factors for abuse, such as social isolation.
It has never been more important to put a stop to elder abuse. This is why Alberta’s government has created a new plan, A Collective Approach: Alberta’s strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse.
A Collective Approach was created with input from seniors, stakeholder and Albertans. It outlines how we can all work together over the next 5 years to create a safer future for our seniors. The strategy focuses on:
- Increased awareness
- Enhanced training for service providers
- Coordinated community response
- Protective laws and policies
- Improved data sharing and collecting
Sadly, the most common type of elder abuse is financial abuse. As someone who worked in the banking industry, I am especially focused on ensuring financial service professionals, frontline staff, and others who have frequent contact with seniors, know how to recognize and take action when it comes to instances of financial abuse. Our new strategy includes working with financial service providers to inform them on how to spot and respond to this type of abuse.
Elder abuse is a complex issue that affects all of us. The more people shine a light on this issue, the easier it will be to spot it before it happens.
I invite all Albertans to read the new strategy, and consider ways they can make a difference in their own families and communities. Maybe you can start by just talking about it with the people around you.
Seniors deserve to live life free of abuse and neglect – let’s work together to make our province safer for them.
Josephine Pon served as Minister of Seniors and Housing from April 30, 2019 to October 24, 2022.