On June 15th, the world will be taking the time to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). WEAAD seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population, and brings together senior citizens, caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder friendly policies.
The government of Ontario describes elder abuse as “any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Neglect is a lack of action by that person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial. Often, more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated pattern of behaviour.” The three known forms of elder abuse are physical, emotional and financial.
It’s been stated enough times that by the year 2030 the older population is expected to double if not triple in size. But the sad fact of the matter is that this also carries a rippling effect when it comes to elder abuse. Older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they are being abused by someone they trust. They may fear retaliation or punishment, or they may have concerns about having to move from their home or community. They may also feel a sense of family loyalty. Often, older adults may not be aware of people and resources that can help.
Elder abuse and neglect can be very difficult to detect. Here are a few signs and symptoms that may indicate an older adult is being victimized or neglected:
- fear, anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to a family member, friend or care provider;
- unexplained physical injuries;
- dehydration, poor nutrition or poor hygiene;
- improper use of medication;
- confusion about new legal documents, such as a new will or a new mortgage;
- sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings; and
- reluctance to speak about the situation.
If you or a loved one are concerned or at risk of abuse, a new toll-free, province-wide Seniors Safety Line (1-866-299-1011) in Ontario for seniors provides assistance
24 hours a day, seven days a week in 154 languages. Stand up. Speak out.