Upwards of 10% of older adults are abused in some form.
With 1.6 million older adults living in Ontario, there may be as many as 160,000 people being abused by people they trust.
The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as:
“Single or repeated acts, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
The information gathered for this article is available through the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA).
The abuse can take many forms: sexual, financial, psychological and neglect. The signs of abuse can include:
- Large sums of money are taken from a bank account
- Signatures on cheques or other papers look suspicious
- The older person is in debt and does not know why
- Bank statements are no longer being sent to the older person’s home
- The older person cannot buy food or personal care items, or pay bills
- The older person’s will is unexpectedly changed
- The older person’s home is unexpectedly sold
- Personal belongings, such as clothes or jewellery, are missing from an older person’s home or room in an institution
- The older person is asked to sign legal papers (such as a power of attorney, a will or a joint deed to a house) without being able to understand what they mean
- The older person cannot remember signing papers or making certain money transfers
- The older person is not allowed to decide or speak for himself or herself
- The older person is isolated from friends and family
- The older person feels afraid or worried when talking about money
An older adult can take steps to protect themselves:
- Stay as active as you can – go on outings with friends; volunteer; join a gym; visit neighbours
- Maintain your friendships and maintain contact with loved ones
- Have any cheques that you may receive, i.e., pension cheques automatically deposited to your bank account
- Have bills, such as your telephone bill, automatically paid from your bank account
- Get legal advise when creating, and/or have a lawyer draw up a Power of Attorney for Property and/or Power of Attorney for Personal Care for you
- Only grant attorneyship (as in a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and/or a Power of Attorney for Personal Care) to someone, or some people, that you know you can trust, and whom you know will respect your wishes
- Write into your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property instructions regarding when it is to come into effect
- Attend educational seminars/sessions that are being offered in your community regarding the abuse of older adults, your rights, senior’s safety, etc.
ONPEA has a number of resources available:
- The Senior Safety Line is toll free at 866 299-1011
- Free From Harm is a 25-page interactive eBook used by service providers and front-line workers dealing with the abuse of older women. The guide introduces practices and tools, including interviewing techniques and the creation of safety plans, that will be of use in assessing and responding to individual cases of abuse.
- Interactive Animated Learning eTools are fictional characterizations that have been developed to allow you to recognize emotional and financial abuse among seniors.
- Videos to identify situations and provide information about ONPEA and elder abuse. CLICK HERE
If you wish to learn more about Elder Abuse, or support the effort of ONPEA, contact:
- The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
234 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 500
Toronto, ON, M4P 1K5Ph: 416-916-6728
Fax: 416-916-6742Email: [email protected]onpea.org
Or call Crime Stoppers at 800 222-8477 or submit a tip online.