June 15, 2018 – Did you know 1 in 6 older adults worldwide have been abused in the past year? As many as 2 out of 3 people with dementia suffer abuse. These are huge numbers, and shows just how important World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is.
While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world, it remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans says the United Nations. With two-thirds of abuse being committed by a family member or loved one, victims do not always come forward to seek help.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, by a person or an institution, which causes harm to an older person.
Some Forms of Elder Abuse:
- Financial Abuse a Financial abuse occurs when a person engages in actions that decrease the financial worth of a senior without a benefit to that person. This can include fraud, theft, coercion, threats, and pressure.
- Psychological Abuse a Psychological abuse occurs when a person engages in actions that decreased a senior’s sense of self-worth and dignity. This can include social isolation, harassment, intimidation and insults.
- Physical Abuse a Physical abuse occurs when a person takes actions that injures or risks injuring a senior. This can include hitting, shaking, shoving, pushing, over-medicating, and inappropriate physical or chemical restraints.
- Sexual Abuse a Sexual abuse occurs when a person engages in unwanted touching, behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature toward a senior. This includes the inappropriate taking of intimate photos.
- Spiritual Abuse a Spiritual abuse occurs when those in authority take action that leads to the erosion or breakdown of one’s cultural or religious belief systems. This is of particular concern to Aboriginal Seniors.
- Neglect a Neglect occurs when inaction results in harm to a senior. It can involve the failure to provide assistance with basic necessities, medical care, clothing, food or water, or shelter.
- Fear, anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to a family member, friend or care provider
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Dehydration, poor nutrition or poor hygiene
- Improper use of medication
- Confusion about new legal documents, such as a new will or a new mortgage
- Sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings
- Reluctance to speak about the situation
In the News
Stan Lee, the 95 year old Marvel Comics legend, has been in the news recently due to elder abuse allegations against his family and business associates. The alleged abuse began last year after Lee’s wife Joanie passed away in 2017.
His daughter and close friend have been accused of financial abuse, as well as an ex-publicist who is accused of draining accounts and selling his blood. Most recently, Lee was granted a restraining order against his business manager as it is alleged the manager was “taking advantage of Lee’s impaired hearing, vision and judgment, moving Lee from his longtime family home and preventing family and associates from contacting him.”
How You Can Raise Awareness
There are many ways you can help raise awareness about elder abuse. It can be as simple as having a conversation with friends and family, sharing this webpage, and educating yourself on how to spot abuse, how to report it, and how to protect yourself.
5 Ways to Detect Financial Abuse
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Government of Canada
Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
National Center on Elder Abuse (USA)
World Health Organization (United Nations)
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
NICE (National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly)
Elder Abuse Ontario
BC Association of Community Response Networks
Prevent Elder Abuse Manitoba