Elder Abuse Poll Report

July 15, 2011

Key Findings

It may be that as many as one tenth of CARP members have suffered elder abuse, most of which is not reported. Members say the answer to elder abuse is greater public awareness and a dedicated Elder Protection Agency. They believe elder abuse is a matter for the police to deal with and not for volunteer organizations.

Just fewer than one-in-ten CARP members claim to have suffered elder abuse (7%), a finding which matches that recorded two years ago (9%). This stands in comparison with a Statistics Canada finding that between 4% and 10% of seniors suffer elder abuse.

Verbal/psychological abuse is the most common form reported, followed by financial abuse. These findings also mirror Statistics Canada findings.

The abuser is most likely to be a family caregiver, either a child or a spouse. Just one third reported the abuse, primarily to a medical professional, followed by a family member. In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrator was not punished.

One-in-seven CARP members feel vulnerable to elder abuse, even though they have not suffered it.

One quarter of CARP members say they know someone who has been abused, and, in one third of cases, the abuse was reported. Overall, members believe, on average, about 20% of seniors are abused, but that only 7% of this abuse is reported.

Almost one third of CARP members think the government’s initiative to toughen sentences for elder abuse will be effective, and, in general, they believe the best ways to combat the problem are to build awareness and to create a dedicated Elder Protection Agency. The one thing members agree on is that direct intervention of any kind is preferable to yet more research into elder abuse.
Members believe that the police, whether on their own or along with multi-disciplinary support teams are best equipped to deal with elder abuse – certainly not non-governmental volunteer third-party agencies.

While CARP members feel child abuse, spousal abuse and elder abuse are all equally abhorrent, their perception is that society feels child abuse is the most abhorrent of all.

Very few members have a caregiver, and this person is most likely to be a female spouse.

Almost no members know the emergency hot line number for elder abuse in their provinces, but one fifth say such a line is not necessary when 911 is available.

About one half of members believe there should be a National Elder Abuse Registry, two thirds believe awareness of elder abuse has increased in Canada in the past few years and one half believe “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” should be renamed “World End Elder Abuse Day”.

The Conservative party continues to increase its share of the CARP voter preference, currently at the expense of the NDP, and this party and the Liberals are both running neck and neck in distant second place to the leaders.

To read a detailed poll report complete with charts, click here

Keywords: elder, abuse, protection