Elder Abuse Awareness in Canada: How to Identify, Statistics, Prevention
Elder abuse is a topic of growing concern not only in Canada but all over the world. The WHO (World Health Organization) said that 1 in 6 seniors aged 60 and over had experienced some form of abuse in 2021.
In Canada, there were reported 14,156 seniors who experienced elder abuse in 2019 alone. Little did they know, they could seek the help of an elderly abuse lawyer if the situation ever went out of hand.
Read more to learn about elder abuse awareness in Canada, how to identify the signs, get statistics, and learn ways of prevention.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a complex and multifaceted term but is generally defined as any action or inaction by someone in a position of power or trust that harms a senior. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is often hidden because seniors are afraid to speak up or don’t even realize they are being abused.
The Public Health Agency of Canada 2014 said elder abuse could profoundly impact victims, including loneliness and depression, financial problems, increased dependency, and even shorter life span.
There are numerous forms of elder abuse, but the most common include:
- Physical abuse: This involves violence such as hitting, pushing, shaking, slapping, punching, kicking, choking, or burning.
- Sexual abuse: This includes non-consensual sexual contact or forcing a senior to participate in sexual acts.
- Financial abuse: This is when someone illegally or improperly uses a senior’s money or property for their own gain. It can also involve forcing a senior to sign over power of attorney or changing the beneficiary on their life insurance policy.
- Psychological abuse: This includes emotional or mental abuse such as yelling, name-calling, making threats, isolating a senior from friends and family, or controlling what they do and where they go.
- Neglect: This is when a caregiver fails to provide the necessary care for a senior such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical attention.
Signs of Elder Abuse
If you believe a senior loved one is being abused, there are some signs to look out for, including:
- Bruises, cuts, scratches, or welts in various stages of healing
- Unexplained fractures or dislocated joints
- Sprains or dislocations
- Burns, especially from cigarettes or scalding liquids
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Untreated medical conditions
- Poor hygiene
- Unusual withdrawal from normal activities
- Uncharacteristic fearfulness or agitated behavior
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
Where Does Elder Abuse Usually Happen?
Elder abuse can happen anywhere, but it often occurs in the senior’s home. In fact, statistics show that abuse against seniors tends to occur at home, and the perpetrators are usually family members or professional caregivers. In some cases, the abuse is a part of a long-standing pattern of abuse in the family.
In Canada, records show that among those reported cases of elder abuse in 2019, 4,518 were victimized by a family member. 34% were caused by a child, 26% by a spouse, and 12% by a child.
In nursing homes, abuse can happen at the hands of staff, other residents, or visitors. If a senior loved one or someone you know is abused in a senior care facility, know that you can work with a nursing home abuse lawyer if the situation gets out of hand.
Abuse can also occur in the community, especially if the senior is socially isolated or has cognitive impairments. This type of senior abuse is often perpetrated by strangers but can also be done by someone the senior knows, such as a neighbor, friend, or home service provider.
Elder Abuse Prevention
The following are are a number of steps you can take to help prevent elder abuse from happening:
- If you are a senior, stay connected with family and friends, join social clubs or groups, and don’t be scared to seek help if you need it.
- If you are a caregiver, take breaks when you need them, ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and make sure to take care of your own health and wellbeing.
- As a responsible member of society, encourage elders to speak up if they feel they are being mistreated.
- Talk to seniors about the different sources available to seek help, such as the police, 911, or their local elder support groups. In serious cases, they can also work with a reputable and experienced lawyer, such as this personal injury law firm in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- Educate yourself and others about elder abuse and how to spot the signs.
- Reach out to the proper authorities, such as the police or adult protective services, if you witness elder abuse.
keep in Mind
Senior abuse is a serious issue, not only in Canada but all over the world. However, you can help prevent it by being aware of the signs and taking action to avoid it. This way, we can help ensure our seniors are safe, respected, and free from harm.
If you suspect elder abuse, reach out to the proper authorities, such as the police, adult protective services, and even expert lawyers.