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Protecting Seniors from Elder Abuse

Written by: Sameen Junejo

One in five Canadians believes they know of a senior who may be experiencing some form of abuse (Government of Canada). Without regard to social, economic, or ethnic groups, seniors are vulnerable to elder abuse – it happens every day in communities across Canada. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported, according to The National Center on Elder Abuse.

Elder abuse is defined as any action by someone in a relationship of trust that results in harm or distress to an older person. Neglect is characterized by a lack of action by a person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Often, more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a pattern of repeated behavior.

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006 to unite communities around the world in raising elder abuse awareness. WEAAD is in support of the UN’s International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue and its initiatives to advance health and well-being into old age, ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

The number of elder abuse cases is expected to rise as the number of persons older than age 65 doubles over the next 20 years. Elder abuse can happen in any care settings, including inpatient and outpatient clinical care, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and at home.

Types of Elder Abuse

Financial Abuse Most Common

The most commonly reported type of elder abuse is financial abuse. Financial abuse decreases the overall financial worth of an older person without benefit to that person and may include:
Misusing, abusing, or stealing a senior’s property or money;
Cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization;
Pressuring seniors to create or change a will, sign legal documents or property transfers such as Power of Attorney, that they do not fully understand;
Sharing or using an older person’s home and/or car without contributing a fair share of the expenses, if requested by the senior.

Signs of Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Preventing Abuse: Protect Yourself, Protect Your Loved One

If you or someone you love is at risk of financial abuse and exploitation, here are some precautionary measures you may consider taking:

It is important to tell someone if you think you are experiencing financial abuse: a close friend or family member, a health care provider or social services professional, a legal or financial advisor, a member of your faith community, or local authorities.

Better Care for a Better Life: Connections

Staying connected and avoiding isolation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, or your loved one. By helping seniors build a network of family, friends, caregivers, and neighbors, the risk for elder abuse is significantly reduced. It’s important for seniors to stay active and busy by getting involved with local senior centers or other elder groups. Consider hiring a personal caregiver to provider companionship, facilitate connections, and provide respite to families.

If you’re considering a home health service provider, contact Bayshore HealthCare today for a free consultation. We provide home health care services – personalized to your needs!

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