Seniors are a vulnerable group. And this fact could not be more true today as we raise awareness about the issue of the mistreatment of seniors in recognition of World Elder Abuse Day. This means being aware of the ways in which seniors, especially those who cannot advocate for themselves, are abused: emotionally, financially and physically.
According to the CSSS Cavendish (Montreal), an estimated 4-10% of seniors are victims of elder abuse. Elder abuse can take the form of physical and sexual mistreatment and violence, verbal abuse, financial exploitation, denial of basic human rights and neglect.
This issue is delicate because while a senior might be dependent upon someone for their care, if that same someone is abusing them, there might be a reticence to report it. Like any abuse, the abused may feel powerless to identify it, let alone take steps to deal with it for fear of reprisal and retribution from the person they depend upon. That is why elder abuse is called a hidden problem. According to the CSSS Cavendish (Montreal), this makes it harder for the professional to deal with because the abused may be protecting their abuser out of fear of: abandonment, placement, imprisonment of a relative, vengeance or reprisals and loss of services.
This is why seniors need to be able to reach out for help. There are help lines available for people who feel they may be victims of elder abuse, as well as victim assistance programs, which include:
In Quebec - Elder Abuse Information/Help Line (Listening, support and resource line): 1-888-489-2287 and CAVAC
In Ontario, available to the rest of Canada: Toll free helpline 1-800-387-5559
State Elder Abuse Hotlines in the US
And your local police and 9-1-1.
As we care-give and advocate for our seniors today, let's be mindful that their vulnerability might one day be our own. We need to protect seniors and their interests as we do ours and as we would like done for us.