It’s a difficult topic but a timely one that we felt needed to be addressed, particularly as in many parts of North America (and worldwide) June is recognized as Seniors Month. What are we talking about? Seniors Month seems an ideal time to address the topic of elder abuse. Sadly, elder abuse happens all too often and often, it happens right under our nose. While the Amintro team usually strives to share positive and uplifting stories – we also try hard to provide all kinds of information that might be of value to mature adults, including occasionally reporting on the kinds of difficult topics like elder abuse that very much impact seniors. After all, as a service provider geared to helping those 50+ make new friends, we know the importance of relying on a friend in times of need. If you’re concerned about the possible abuse of a friend or neighbour, consider sharing those concerns with the authorities in your area. It’s never wrong to show an interest in our fellow community members and sometimes, creating an opportunity for a “wellness check” on a friend or loved one, might just be the right thing to do!
WHO, the World Health Organization, has designated June 15th, 2019 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
With the number of seniors predicted to rise exponentially over the coming decades, sadly the number of senior adults being abused is also likely to grow. Current statistics suggest as many as 1 in 6 mature adults experience some kind of elder abuse, a number that should be considered unacceptable! (Of course, really any number is unacceptable.) WHO cites “Elder abuse (as) a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world,” suggesting it is “an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.” Designating June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day “represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.” By 2050, according to WHO estimates, there will be over 2 billion seniors worldwide so this is a timely and relevant topic that requires our urgent attention.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Elder abuse takes on many forms. It can be financial, physical, emotional, sexual or psychological. Sadly, it is often a combination of some or all of these.
- Elder abuse can be a single act or a series of repeated acts. Occasionally it is also the result of an unintentional act of neglect.
- Elder abuse often goes unreported or underreported and, for the record, occurs universally – that is, it happens in developed and underdeveloped countries and amongst both the poor and the privileged.
- It occurs in multi-generational families, in the home, in care facilities and seniors homes, even in medical institutions.
- Abusers can include anyone from family or friends and caregivers to licensed home care providers, nurses or personal support workers.
- Financial exploitation might include forced forgery of documents transferring ownership of homes, properties or bank accounts. Forcing a loved one to change designated heirs on a will or forced power of attorney privileges. It could involve restricting access to government income (pension and otherwise) or a senior forced to turn over pension cheques in exchange for “rent” and “living expenses.”
- Social isolation occurs both by restricting access to the senior and restricting the senior from having access to outside support agencies, friends or even medical providers. This too is another form of abuse. The senior becomes increasingly reliant on the “caregiver” who gradually increases and exerts their control over the senior.
WHO suggests that we all play a role in helping to identify and prevent elder abuse and we at Amintro couldn’t agree more.
Friends fulfil an important role in our lives offering support, a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear and in happier times – someone with whom we enjoy companionship, travel adventures and more. We all need to take a more active role in protecting our more vulnerable citizens. When it comes to sharing possible concerns about the wellbeing of a friend, neighbour or loved one, it’s our friends who can support us through the potentially difficult journey of reporting those concerns to the authorities. Become familiar with the resources available in your community. Social services agencies exist in almost every town and city regardless of size and #911 is always only a phone call away. Become empowered, learn more about your rights and encourage your friends to do the same. If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to protect a senior!
Written by Sheralyn Roman