Elder abuse is a hidden problem in all parts of the world, including Canada, regardless of race, ethnicity, education, socio-economic status, etc. In Canada, a national study in 2004 showed that 10% of seniors are victims of crimes each year. Little did they know, they could hire experienced lawyers, such as this senior abuse lawyer Halifax area, to help them with their case and get the compensation they deserve.
If there is an elderly family member, relative, friend, or someone you know who is being mistreated or abused, it’s important to take action and get help. Find out what elderly abuse in Canada is, how to spot it, and how to prevent it.
What Is Elder Abuse in Canada?
There’s no one definition of elder abuse in Canada. However, the term is generally used to describe various actions or behaviors that cause harm to an older person. These actions can be physical, psychological, financial, or sexual in nature.
They can also occur within a relationship with an imbalance of power. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, 32% or over 4,000 reported abused seniors in 2019 (14,156) were victimized by a family member. What’s heartbreaking is that 34% is perpetrated by their child, 26% by their spouse, and 12% by their sibling.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone, but it is more prevalent among seniors who live alone, have cognitive impairments, or live in long-term care facilities. Moreover, the Public Health Agency of Canada 2014 said that elder abuse could profoundly impact victims, including loneliness and depression, financial problems, increased dependency, and even shorter life span.
There is no one reason why elder abuse occurs. Sometimes, it may be due to the caregiver feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Caregivers who are well-rested and have a support system are less likely to abuse those in their care. It could also be a result of substance abuse or mental health issues. Financial abuse often happens when someone takes advantage of an elderly person’s finances for their own gain.
While there are various types of elder abuse, some common examples include:
1. Physical Abuse
This type of abuse involves the intentional use of physical force that results in harm or injury to an older adult. It can include slapping, hitting, biting, choking, burning, shoving, and forcing someone to take drugs against their will. This can involve a personal injury lawyer (such as Valent Legal) if the senior is physically harmed.
2. Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse (also called emotional abuse) involves any action or behavior that causes mental anguish, pain, or fear in an older adult. It can include name-calling, yelling, threatening, intimidating, or isolating someone.
3. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse happens when someone uses an older person’s money or possessions without permission or authority. It can involve forgery, fraud, theft, exploitation, and undue pressure for financial gain. Common examples include:
- Cashing cheques without permission.
- Using a power of attorney for personal gain.
- Convincing a senior to sign a will or property deed.
4. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any sexual behavior that is unwanted by the victim. It can involve unwanted touching, forced sexual intercourse, rape, or any other type of sexual contact.
How to Spot Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is often hidden, making it difficult to spot. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, there are some signs to look for, such as:
- Bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Anxiety, fearfulness, or depression
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or credit cards
- Changes in a will or power of attorney
- Unusual activity on joint bank accounts
- Missing possessions
- Increased agitation or social withdrawal
Take action and get help if you see any of these signs. You can contact your local police department, 911, the local elder abuse prevention program, or the Canadian Elder Abuse Prevention Network.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
The following are a few steps you can take to help prevent elder abuse:
- Educate yourself and others around you about elder abuse, including how to spot and prevent it.
- Talk to your senior loved ones about their finances, including who has access to their accounts and what type of financial assistance they may need.
- Encourage them to participate in social activities and stay connected to their community.
- Make sure they have a support system of family and friends they can rely on.
- Encourage seniors to speak up when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Tell seniors that there are many types of abuse, and they have different sources where they can seek help. For instance, if they experience problems in a senior care facility, such as overmedication, they can ask for help from an overmedication lawyer if the facility is unwilling to help.
The Bottom Line
Elder abuse is a growing issue in Canada. It’s important to be aware of the signs and take action if you suspect someone you know is being abused. You can also help prevent senior abuse by educating yourself and those around you about this issue.
If you or someone you love or know is a victim of elder abuse, many sources of help are available. You can contact your local police department, 911, the local elder abuse prevention program, or the Canadian Elder Abuse Prevention Network for assistance.