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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fighting Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse It’s Time to Face Reality[i]
         This material was found in a folder at the local senior’s centre and I think the information should have a wider exposure. The handout discusses psychological, financial, and physical abuse.
         “One in five Canadians believes they know of a senior who might be experiencing some form of abuse. Seniors from all walks of life are vulnerable to elder abuse and its happening in communities across Canada.”
         “Outlined here is basic information on how seniors and Canadians can spot elder abuse as well as information on how to help stop it.”
What is Elder Abuse?
         “Elder abuse is any action by anyone in a relationship of trust the results in harm or distress to an older person.  Neglect is a lack of action by that person in a relationship of trust with the same result. Commonly recognized types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial.  Often, more than on type of abuse occurs at the same time. Abuse can be a single incident or a repeated pattern of behaviour.”
         “Financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of elder abuse.”
Why does elder abuse happen?
         “Elder abuse often occurs because of the abuser’s power and control over an older person.  In some situations, the abuse may also result from addiction issues (drugs, alcohol, gambling), mental health problems, a cycle of family violence or ageism. Abuse can happen when the aggressor wants to intimidate, isolate, dominate, or control another person.”
Who abuses Seniors?
         “ Older adults effected by abuse often know and trust the person mistreating them.  Elder abuse can be caused by a family member, a friend, someone who provides assistance with basic needs or services, or health care providers in institutional settings. In many situations of elder abuse, the abuser is dependent on the other adult for money, food or shelter.”

Who is affected by elder abuse?
         “Most older people who experience abuse are able to make decisions for themselves.”
         “Abuse can happen to anyone, in any family or relationship. It can happen to people of backgrounds, ages, religions, races, cultures and ethnic origins.”

Why are some older adults reluctant to talk about elder abuse?
         “Older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they are being abused by someone they trust.  They may fear retaliation or punishment, or they may have concerns about having to move from their home or community.  They may also feel a sense of family loyalty.  Often, older adults may not be aware of people and resources that can help.”

Who can help?
         “It is important that the older person has access to information to make informed decisions and be aware of available help.  This may include support and assistance from family members or friends, health care providers, social services, police, legal professional and/or members of faith communities. No one ever deserves to be abused of neglected.”

What are the indicators of abuse and neglect?
         “Elder abuse and neglect can be very difficult to detect. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that an older adult is being victimized or neglected.”

·        fear, anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to family member, friend or care provider;
·        unexplained physical injuries;
·        dehydration, poor nutrition, or poor hygiene;
·        improper use of medication;
·        confusion about legal documents, such as new will or a new mortgage;
·        sudden drop in case flow or financial holdings; and
·        reluctance to speak about the situation.”

What is:

“Physical abuse of seniors?”

·        striking;
·        hitting;
·        pushing;
·        shaking;
·        burning;
·        shoving;
·        inappropriate physical and chemical restraints; or
·        harm created by over or under medicating”

“Psychological abuse”

“Psychological abuse of seniors includes actions that decrease their sense of self-worth and dignity and may include:
·        insults;
·        threats;
·        intimidation;
·        humiliation;
·        harassment;
·        treating them like a child; or
·        isolating them from family, friends and regular activities.”

“Financial Abuse”

“Financial abuse includes actions that decrease the worth of an older person, without benefit to that person and may includes:
·        misusing or stealing a senior’s assets, property or money;
·        cashing an elderly person’s cheques without authorization;
·        forging an elderly person’s signature
·        unduly pressuring seniors to make or change a will, or to sign legal documents that they do not fully understand; and
·        sharing an older person’s home without paying a fair share of the expenses when requested.”

“Neglect of seniors”

“Neglect includes interactions that may result in harm to an older person and may include a caregiver or family member not providing appropriate:
·        water or food;
·        shelter;
·        clothing;
·        medication or medical attention; and
·        assistance with basic necessities.”
Seniors that are the most vulnerable to neglect include those who are socially isolated, and those with serious health conditions.”

 Finally, a survey that included 3,001 Canadians, including 718 seniors aged 65 and older that was conducted between May 21st and June 6th 2008 found that “…96 percent of Canadians think most of the abuse experienced by older adults is hidden or goes undetected.”

[i] To find out more on what the government of Canada is doing for seniors visit  ISBN 978-0-662-06370-4 

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