Elder Abuse, like all kinds of abuse, is often unreported (and under reported), likely because in far too many instances it is perpetrated by someone close to the senior. "North American studies indicate that between 2 and 10 per cent of older adults will experience some type of elder abuse or neglect each year." ( http://www.elderabuseontario.com/what-is-elder-abuse/). With the number of seniors increasing annually, this figure is truly disheartening and clearly this abuse, like all abuse towards a vulnerable sector in our society, really needs to be publicized; as a society, we need to do everything possible to combat it and assist victims.
Abuse towards an elder can take many forms and includes not just physical abuse but also, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual abuse and neglect. Family members and caregivers, closest to a person, are in an ideal position to take advantage of a senior and some, who may be experiencing caregiver burnout, may not even recognize that they are victimizing the person. There are also people external to family, that are in a position of trust, like paid caregivers or neighbours who also are in a position to be an abuser especially if a senior is vulnerable and does not have regular family or friends who visit and know what is going on in their lives on a regular basis.
If you know someone who is elderly and is exhibiting signs of unexplained injury, fear, anxiety, depression, helplessness, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, missing money or missing valuables, it may be time to reach out to them in privacy to let them know your concerns and ascertain if what you are seeing may be a sign of elder abuse. Always investigate properly and refer to professionals before jumping to any unnecessary conclusions. Never assume Elder Abuse is happening without proof, especially if you are not overly familiar with the person and their situation; each situation is unique and cultural differences may explain certain behaviours. Don't jump to conclusions but also, keep an eye out for possible issues. Visit http://www.elderabuseontario.com/ to find out more signs and symptoms or call 416-916-6728. If you are a senior and need assistance, call the Seniors Safety Line at 1-866-299-1011.
Abuse is not acceptable in any form. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It's unfortunate that we need to be reminded that we all bear the responsibility of of helping someone who is being abused.