COVID-19 brings unprecedented urgency to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Upset older woman drying tears

1 in 6 older Canadians are victimized by elder abuse, with 1 in 3 CARP Members saying they know someone who has fallen victim. Unacceptable at the best of times, COVID-19 has made the need to protect vulnerable seniors from this insidious threat all the more urgent.

Unprecedented reports of neglect and abuse in care homes and fraudulent phone calls purporting to “help” low income seniors apply for government financial assistance have piled on top of the well-documented financial, emotional, psychological and physical abuse endured by older people across Canada every day.

“If ever there was a time to step up efforts to shield our elders from abuse, it is now,” warns Marissa Lennox, CARP’s Chief Policy Officer. “Nearly 9 in 10 CARP Members believe government intervention is needed to curtail elder abuse. The recent loss of life in long-term care is a terrifying reminder of what happens when political powers turn a blind eye to this quiet crisis.”

Our current Liberal minority government has promised to create a national definition of elder abuse, invest in better data collection and law enforcement, and establish new penalties in the Criminal Code for those preying on vulnerable seniors.

In order to make Canada a great (and safe) place to age for all, we need to do all of this and more.

We all have a role to play in protecting older adults around us who may be at risk of abuse. If you suspect someone is being abused, reach out and offer help. Call the police if you suspect a senior in your community is in imminent danger. Reach out to your provincial/regional agency or helpline that specializes in elder abuse prevention. Real change comes when the top (government policy) and bottom (community efforts) work together as one.

CARP is calling on government to take a stand for our seniors, starting a national conversation on ending the ever-pervasive threat of elder abuse:

  • Create a national awareness campaign on elder abuse, neglect and self-neglect.
  • Establish a national 1-800 number to report and track elder abuse and connect Canadians with services and supports.
  • Invest in research and data gathering to quantify, track and develop a national strategy for responding to elder abuse and neglect.
  • Provide long-term, secure funding for the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and regional affiliates.

As engaged citizens, we must not stop until every senior is safe.