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Elder Abuse


Every day elderly people are victims of abuse. Abuse can be in the form of physical injury, financial theft, neglect or sexual assault.

In BC, one out of every twelve seniors suffers from abuse and we know that unreported cases would bring that percentage much higher.

These people may be a parent, grandparent, neighbour or loved one. Victims of abuse often feel powerless and alone. They don’t know where to turn or who to go to for help. So please, remember what we have all been taught, to respect our elders. Together, we can make a difference.

If you think you know someone who is being neglected, exploited or abused there is help available.

For more information about how to recognize the signs of abuse or to get help for someone who you believe may be a victim of abuse call the Seniors Outreach Centre at 250-861-6180.  You will be treated with respect and confidentiality.

Elder Abuse Is a Crime

Unfortunately the majority of elder abuse is either unnoticed or under reported. This is largely due to individuals not recognizing the signs of abuse, not wanting to accept the facts regarding how frequently abuse of seniors occurs and/or being uncertain or fearful about reporting known or suspected abuse.

Elder abuse includes:

  • physical abuse such as slapping, pushing, beating or forced confinement;
  • financial abuse such as stealing, fraud, extortion, and misusing a power of attorney;
  • sexual abuse as sexual assault or any unwanted form of sexual activity;
  • neglect as in failing to give an older person in your care food, medical attention, or other necessary care, or abandoning an older person in your care;
  • mental abuse as in treating an older person like a child, humiliating, insulting, frightening, threatening, or ignoring an older person.

Elder abuse can also be a crime under the criminal laws of Canada. Financial Abuse is reported the most frequently.

Story on abuse:

This is Sarah’s story about financial abuse.

Sarah now lives alone. Her husband passed away four years ago. Her daughter lives in another province. Although her son lives close by, he seldom visits and does not take an interest in her day to day struggles. Sarah’s grandson, Andrew, has been staying with her helping her out with household tasks. To make it easier to pay for items such as groceries, Sarah added Andrew’s name to her checking account so that he could make purchases for her. At first Sarah thought that this was working well. However, Andrew started to ask her for money for things other than everyday expenses. Now Andrew also says he needs to borrow from her to repay a debt. Sarah refused to give him the money.

Sarah was shocked when she received her monthly bank statement. There was a withdrawal of $1500 for which she had no record. Sarah knows that Andrew has taken the money and she does not know what to do about it. She is worried and very hurt. Financially she needs the money returned to her account.

Q: What should Sarah do immediately?

A: Sarah should contact her financial institution immediately and have Andrew’s name removed from her account. Sarah should also call an advocate for support such as someone she knows and trusts or an agency that provides information and support.

Q: Is Sarah’s grandson doing something wrong?

A: Yes, Sarah’s grandson is abusing her by stealing from her. Stealing is a form of financial abuse and it is not acceptable.

Indicators of financial abuse:

  • confusion about his or her own finances
  • denial that anything is happening
  • resignation and sometimes acceptance of the incidents as being part of being an older adult
  • lack of financial choices or decisions
  • family members moving in without older adult’s agreement and no sharing of costs
  • extraordinary interest in an older adult’s assets or will
  • unusual bank activity, for example, a lot of cash withdrawals
  • a noticeable discrepancy between income and standard of living
  • withdrawal from activities and communication with others
  • marked changes in behavior, for example, fearful, depressed, mentally confused anger, and verbal or physical outbursts

NOTE: Some of these indicators may be present when there is no abuse. The characters and events depicted in this scenario are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

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