Elder abuse prevention strategy

Overview

A new strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse to make Alberta safer for seniors.

Overview

A Collective Approach: Alberta’s Strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse is a new 5-year strategy to guide how Albertans, nonprofit organizations, frontline workers, businesses and governments can work together to prevent and reduce elder abuse.

Elder abuse is a serious issue - it's estimated that nearly one in 10 Alberta seniors may be victims of some form of elder abuse.

The new strategy updates Alberta's definition of elder abuse and includes goals and actions to make Alberta safer for seniors. It outlines new approaches for recognizing and responding to financial abuse, increasing awareness of elder abuse, improving service provider training, enhancing data collection and program development, supporting community responses, and strengthening protective laws and policies.

What is elder abuse?

Alberta has a new definition of elder abuse that can be applied consistently across the province. It will help provide clarity to community stakeholders, promote standardized data collection and information sharing, and better support government program, policy and funding decisions.

Elder abuse is any intentional or reckless act or wilful and negligent disregard, occurring within a relationship of family, trust or dependency, directed at someone 65 years of age or older, that:

  • causes physical harm
  • causes emotional or psychological harm
  • involves the misappropriation or misuse of money or other personal possessions or personal or real property
  • subjects an individual to non-consensual sexual contact, activity or behaviour
  • fails to provide the necessities of life

Vision and principles

Our vision is for Alberta seniors to be free from abuse and neglect.

The goals and actions in the strategy are based on the following principles as they relate to preventing and addressing elder abuse within the context of seniors’ rights of self-determination and autonomy.

  • Dignity: Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, regardless of their age and situation.
  • Independence: Seniors value their independence. They value being in control of their lives, making their own decisions and doing as much for themselves as circumstances permit.
  • Participation: Seniors value getting involved, staying active, and participating in their community.  They value being consulted and having their views considered.
  • Fairness: All Albertans are entitled to fair and equal treatment, and equitable access to available services and resources. Discrimination based on age is never acceptable.
  • Security: Seniors value many types of security–having an income adequate to meet their daily needs; safe living conditions; and access to family, friends and a network of support.
  • Collaboration: All Albertans benefit from the collective actions of individuals, families, civil society partners, and all orders of government in supporting the development and delivery of elder abuse prevention strategies, and intervention programs and services.
Alberta's strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse has 5 goals.

Goal 1: Improved awareness

All Albertans are aware of elder abuse, including financial abuse,
and how to prevent it, how to identify it, and where to go for assistance.

  • Short-term actions

    • Through the development of new or revised knowledge and resource materials, address cultural nuances by collaborating with civil society partners who work directly with seniors from ethno-cultural groups.
    • Work with appropriate partners, including the business community, non-profit sector and faith communities, to develop standardized common and consistent messaging on elder abuse prevention information and resources that foster a culture of respect, appreciation and inclusion of seniors amongst Albertans of all ages.
    • Work with civil society partners to develop and implement province-wide, multi-pronged public awareness campaigns to better inform seniors and all Albertans about elder abuse, including financial abuse.
    • Annually collaborate with the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council and other partners to promote World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) and Family Violence Prevention Month (November) to spotlight elder abuse by sharing information on elder abuse and how to recognize it and find help.
    • Collaborate with Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors to raise awareness of elder abuse and address ageism.
    • Promote and encourage the inclusion of seniors in awareness-raising efforts.
  • Long-term actions

    • Identify and address gaps in knowledge and resource materials, including for rural and remote communities, LGBTQ2S+ older adults, ethnic minority and immigrant older adults, Indigenous older adults, formal and informal seniors’ networks, and caregivers, to address elder abuse, including identification and prevention, by working closely with civil society partners.

    • Facilitate sharing best practices, resources and materials between governments and civil society partners.

Goal 2: Skilled service providers

Alberta's service providers have the knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve and support seniors and to help prevent, identify and address elder abuse appropriately.

  • Short-term actions

    • Collaborate with civil society partners to explore mechanisms, such as the Collaborative Online Resources & Education (CORE) Alberta elder abuse group committee, to enhance the availability of training about elder abuse prevention and intervention amongst service providers in rural and remote communities.

    • Working with appropriate organizations, enhance a knowledge hub, like CORE Alberta, with relevant training resources to build knowledge and skills about elder abuse prevention and intervention amongst service providers who work with diverse populations.

  • Long-term actions

    • Work with civil society partners, such as Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council, to support the development of cross-sector training on elder abuse prevention and intervention for service providers and key stakeholders, such as specialized training on how to handle disclosures, intervention strategies, risk factors, intimate partner violence, fostering healthy relationships, sexual assault, and intergenerational trauma.

    • Work with civil society partners to support the development and sharing of sector-specific training resources for service providers (social service professionals, post-secondary institutions, financial services personnel, seniors housing providers, health professionals, etc.) who can help identify and respond to elder abuse.

    • Work with civil society partners to develop elder abuse training to enhance the knowledge and skills of service providers to address the unique needs of diverse seniors, including LGBTQ2S+ older adults, ethnic minority and immigrant older adults, Indigenous older adults, and seniors living in rural and remote communities. 

    • Collaborate with Alberta’s police agencies across the province including in rural communities to support the inclusion of training for law enforcement personnel on the identification, assessment, and appropriate responses to situations of non-criminal elder abuse.

Goal 3: Coordinated community responses

Alberta communities are well-positioned to work with other partners to provide coordinated supports that prevent and respond to elder abuse, including effective intervention resources.

  • Short-term actions

    • Collaborate with the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council through CCRs to support seniors and their families in navigating supports and services, including housing supports, Recovery Oriented Systems of Care for mental health and addiction services, and transitional services.

    • Support and encourage the CCR Community of Practice to increase opportunities for raising awareness, networking, training, developing a standardized approach to case management, and standardized elder abuse data collection.

  • Long-term actions

    • Support and encourage the development, implementation and maintenance of CCR models across Alberta, which are sensitive to unique geographic and cultural perspectives, including those of Indigenous, immigrant, and rural and remote communities.

    • Develop and support a systematic approach for funding seniors' shelters in Calgary and Edmonton (Kerby Rotary House and Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton Safe House).

    • Promote and encourage the inclusion of seniors participating in community-led efforts. 

Goal 4: Protective laws and policies

Albertans have access to legal tools and other mechanisms that help protect seniors from abuse and fraud, effectively address elder abuse situations, and uphold seniors' rights.

  • Short-term actions

    • Establish a cross-ministry committee to assess existing provincial policies and legislation to explore gaps or challenges in response to elder abuse; identify opportunities to work with key stakeholders; and make recommendations to the government.

  • Long-term actions

    • Address legislative review recommendations by the cross-ministry committee.

    • Work with cross-ministry partners to ensure that issues related to elder abuse are considered when new legislation is proposed or amended that relates to seniors' safety and security.

    • Work with appropriate civil society partners, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, Advance Care Planning groups and law enforcement, to provide and enhance opportunities for service providers to learn about the legal tools and mechanisms available to help prevent, respond to, and reduce incidents of elder abuse.

    • Work with the legal sector to enhance public knowledge and awareness about civil remedies available to individuals and families affected by elder abuse.

    • Work with appropriate civil society partners to support the dissemination of best practices in elder law amongst members of the legal profession.

    • Collaborate with the federal government to prioritize efforts to enhance federal protective laws and policies that address elder abuse.

    • Work with the federal government to examine ways of enabling federally-regulated financial institutions to help prevent, identify and respond to instances of financial abuse among their clients.

Goal 5: Data, information sharing, research and evaluation

Life is made safer for Alberta seniors through informed and evidence-based policy and actions to prevent elder abuse.

  • Short-term actions

    • Support the adoption of a consistently understood and applied definition of elder abuse to support strong data collection and analysis.

    • Establish a cross-ministry working group to support the standardization, collection, evaluation and analysis of elder abuse data across the government, focusing on gaining aggregate elder abuse data that is comparable, robust, and reliable.

    • Support studies that include a focus on personal safety specific to elder abuse to enhance knowledge related to elder abuse prevalence rates in the province.

    • Support civil society partners, such as those in health-based, legal, non-profit, and seniors-serving organizations, in the standardization of data collection for their programs and services.

    • Facilitate the gathering, analysis, and sharing of evidence-based research regarding elder abuse prevention with civil society partners across all sectors.

    • Facilitate the sharing of research on elder abuse across all sectors.

  • Long-term actions

    • Work with civil society partners to enhance information sharing among service providers to better assist individuals and families affected by or at risk of elder abuse while protecting clients' privacy.

    • Collaborate with civil society partners to develop best practices to enhance information sharing more widely to support collective action.

    • Leverage standardized data and analysis to inform ongoing decisions related to the development and implementation of elder abuse prevention policies, programs and services.

Where to get help