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.
Any senior can become a victim of elder abuse regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, income or education.
What is elder abuse?
Alberta's elder abuse prevention strategy updated the definition of elder abuse to include 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, 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
Common types of elder abuse
The most common types of elder abuse are:
Victims commonly suffer more than one type of abuse at the same time. The most frequently identified and reported types of elder abuse in Canada are financial and emotional.
- Elder abuse is often committed by someone known to the victim who is in a position of power, trust or authority. Approximately 25% of crimes against seniors are committed by family members, usually a spouse or adult child.
- Elder abuse is often impacted by the mental and physical conditions of both the abuser and the victim. These factors interact in ways uniquely dependent on the individuals involved and the situation.
- Social isolation is one of several risk factors in elder abuse situations. A social isolation resource kit is available to help raise awareness and understanding of social isolation.
- depression or anxiety
- unexplained injuries
- changes in hygiene
- seeming fearful around certain people
- fear or worry when talking about money
Call 911 if you or someone you know is being abused and is in immediate danger.
What to do if you think you are being abused
Leave the situation if you are in immediate danger
Go to a safe place, such as with a neighbour, friend or relative. Go into a business or when calling a helpline ask to be taken to a shelter. If you are unable to leave your home, call 911 immediately.
Confide in someone you trust and tell them about what is happening
This could be a friend or family member, public health nurse, social worker, home care worker, someone at your place of worship, or a doctor.
Keep a record
Write down what is happening to you and keep a daily record. This will help you to document the abuse and help others assist you if you need it.
Take legal action
All forms of abuse are wrong. Some forms are illegal. You may want to think about a court protection order that would stop the abusive person from having contact with you. Your local police service or a police-based victim services unit can give you information.
Don't blame yourself
No one deserves to be abused, it is not your fault and help is available. Many groups in your community want to help you protect your rights, safety and dignity.
24-hour, toll-free helplines
Family Violence Info Line
Get information, advice and referrals in over 170 languages.
Calgary Elder Abuse Resource Line
Located in the Kerby Centre, make a report or get information.
Edmonton Seniors Abuse Help Line
Get support, referrals and crisis intervention.
Strathcona County Elder Abuse Line
Get support, referrals and information.
Other services to contact
Protection for Persons in Care Reporting Line
Report the abuse of an adult receiving care or support services from publicly funded service providers such as hospitals, seniors' lodges, nursing homes, mental health facilities, shelters, group homes, addictions treatment centres and other supportive living settings.
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
Report a serious concern about a guardian, co-decision maker, trustee or agent.
The Alberta Health Advocates
Access resolution to support to senior Albertans and their families.
Edmonton Seniors Protection Partnership
Make a report or get information.
Lethbridge Elder Abuse Response Network
Share complaints or concerns.
St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF)
Get information, education and support.
Grande Prairie Seniors Outreach
Get information and resources.
Help for victims
The Criminal Code of Canada sets out a variety of criminal offences that can occur in the context of elder abuse. These include offences such as
- physical or sexual assault
- offences against the rights of property, such as property theft, forgery and extortion
- breach of trust and fraud
While no one ever expects to be a victim of crime, it is important to know that help is available for victims of crime.
If you have been a victim of crime, your first step is to call the police. They will investigate the crime and refer you to a victim services unit for assistance. Victim services units are staffed with trained, caring people who offer information, assistance and support to victims during the police investigation and throughout the criminal justice process.
Elder abuse prevention strategy
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.
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.
Connect with Alberta Seniors and Housing Seniors Strategies and Program Support:
Email: [email protected]
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