June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Canada and around the world.
1 in 6 older Canadians experience elder abuse, with 1 in 3 CARP members saying they know a senior who has been abused. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, financial, spiritual or medical (under or over medicating).
Abuse can happen anywhere. In care facilities, residents may be particularly vulnerable due to their loss of independence, diminished physical and cognitive capacities, and proximity to many ‘strangers’ (including other residents, employees and visitors). Abuse can also take place within the home by paid caregivers or family members.
What are the signs that abuse might be occurring?
There are several signs that someone may be being abused or neglected, including, the person:
- shows signs of depression or anxiety;
- seems fearful around certain people;
- becomes socially withdrawn (less contact with people who they have been close to in the past);
- becomes passive and very compliant;
- has unexplained physical injuries (i.e. bruises, swellings, broken bones);
- vague or illogical explanations regarding injuries (whether these explanations are provided by your loved ones or the nursing-home staff);
- lacks food, clothing and other necessities;
- clothes that are ripped, soiled, or covered with blood;
- shows changes in their hygiene or nutrition (e.g. signs of malnutrition);
- suddenly becomes unable to meet financial obligations;
- has an unusual withdrawal from their bank or other financial institutions;
- sexually transmitted diseases and other unexplained infections
What can I get more information or help?
Caregiving can be incredibly rewarding but also extremely stressful. In some cases, preventing abuse or neglect (even unintentional) can mean ensuring caregivers are supported. If you are a caregiver and are concerned about the degree of burnout, frustration or stress you are experiencing, please reach out for help.
We all have a role to play in protecting older adults around us who may be at risk of abuse. If you are concerned that someone is being abused, reach out and offer help. Call the police or your provincial/regional agency or helpline to talk about the suspected abuse.
Elder Abuse Provincial Resources
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador