The CARP Poll: CARP Elder Abuse Report

Key Findings

November 2nd, 2012: CARP members are as likely to suffer elder abuse as the rest of the population, and they understand the deep ramifications for family stability and social order implicit in abuse. They are torn between keeping it a family affair and reporting to authorities, though most agree there should be a “Duty to Report”.

A very small percentage of CARP members, consistent with accepted national estimates, has suffered elder abuse themselves, but as many as one third know someone who has suffered abuse, which indicates a substantial under-reporting problem.

Abuse suffered is most likely to be financial elder abuse, also in line with national estimates, although verbal abuse is also reported. Close to one third report they or someone they know has been financially abused because of their age.

Only a small minority of members think themselves personally vulnerable to abuse, but all members are concerned by the ramifications for themselves.

When asked what kind of intervention would be best were they being abused, members are split between an internal family confrontation and an external police investigation. By the same token, if they were being abused, they are split on whether they would call police, call family or confront the abuser themselves. In a further example of this split, the preferred penalty for an abuser is either jail time or restitution.

In terms of recognizing signs of abuse in others, the key is withdrawal and depression, accompanied by witness from the victim and confusion and fear of companions. Most would first ask the victim if they were being abused and then would use the knowledge that they have a responsibility to report to other family members or to the police.

Many are concerned about erring in making an accusation of abuse and there is high interest in “Good Samaritan” protection for the honestly mistaken, but also in a legislated “Duty to Report” with substantial penalties for failure to do so.

Members agree the best thing to do to avoid abuse is staying socially connected and on top of one’s finances and financial decisions.

Of five listed CARP advocacy positions on elder abuse, the duty to report and the 1-800/911-type reporting number are seen to be the most effective, although none are seen to be ineffective.

A national investor protection agency with enforcement and restitution powers is seen to be the best way to curtail financial abuse in Canada this year, and this has increased markedly over last year. In addition, awareness-building about elder abuse is seen to be a more important tool this year than last year in combating elder abuse.

CARP members in Ontario are very concerned Premier McGuinty prorogued the legislature, especially when they learn a fire safety bill died with the parliament. They think he prorogued to avoid trouble, not to govern better.

The Conservatives lead in voter preference, the NDP is in second, and the Liberals, after a brief fling with the Trudeau effect are back in third place.TCPTG12345