“We owe it to older persons and societies at large to fight ageism in all its forms and enhance the dignity and human rights of older persons everywhere.”~ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The United Nations General Assembly designated June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse comes in many forms. The National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) broadly defines elder abuse as “actions/behaviours or lack of actions/behaviours that cause harm or risk of harm within a trust relationship”. NICE describes these specific actions and behaviours as:
– Physical abuse. Actions or behaviours that result in bodily injury, pain, impairment or physical distress.
– Emotional/Psychological abuse. Severe or persistent verbal/non-verbal behavior that results in emotional or psychological harm.
– Financial abuse. An action or lack of action with respect to material possessions, funds, assets, property, or legal documents, that is unauthorized, or coerced, or a misuse of legal authority.
– Sexual abuse. Direct or indirect sexual activity without consent.
– Neglect. Repeated deprivation of assistance needed by an older person for activities of daily living.
The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) states that the most common form of elder abuse is financial followed by neglect.
Signs of Abuse
Many of the older adults who are being abused remain silent. The older adult may be afraid that their situation will get worse, be worried about what will happen to the abuser or concerned about appearances. According to the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat approximately 80% of elder abuse in Canada is hidden or undetected. The RCMP list the following indicators as possible signs of elder abuse:
- A sudden change in behavior or appearance.
- A sudden onset of physical injuries.
- A change in financial resources.
Where to find help
In addition to the national agencies listed below there are numerous local and regional agencies that help older adults who are being abused.
Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
Connects people and organizations, to foster the exchange of reliable information, and advance program and policy development on issues related to preventing abuse of older adults.
National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly
NICE is an international network of researchers, practitioners, students and older adults dedicated to improving the care of older adults, both in Canada and abroad.
Be sure to wear purple to show your support and help raise awareness of elder abuse on Sunday, June 15.