How to Protect Against Elder Abuse

Here’s a statistic we wish wasn’t true: 1 to 10 percent of seniors are subjected to elder abuse. Many cases go unreported, but the truth is people are taking advantage of seniors across Canada, and too often nothing is being done about it. If your parent is living alone and may be at risk, here’s what you need to know.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse happens when someone in a position of trust causes harm or distress to an older person. Financial abuse is the most commonly reported form of elder abuse in Canada (tricking, threatening or persuading out of money or property). Seniors may also be physically or psychologically harmed. Neglect is also a problem if the older person fails to get necessities.

Signs of elder abuse

It can be tough to pinpoint if your parent is being targeted, but the Government of Canada Seniors website suggests looking for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Confusion about new legal documents (new will or mortgage)
  • Sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings
  • Fear, anxiety, depression, or passiveness around particular people
  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Dehydration, poor nutrition, poor hygiene
  • Improper use of medication
  • Reluctance to speak about the situation

Help seniors prevent abuse

To keep your loved ones safe, follow these tips from Elder Abuse Ontario:

  • Make sure your parent keeps debit cards, credit cards and PIN numbers private. Help set them up with direct deposit for cheques and assist them with paying bills automatically through a bank account.
  • Recommend that your parent not sign any document out of guilt or lack of comprehension, whether it’s a will, loan or a contract with a utility company. Offer to review documents together and seek out legal advice where appropriate.
  • Be careful about having someone move into your parent’s home: thoroughly check references beforehand and monitor continuously after.
  • Assist your parents with planning their future while they’re still independent and mentally capable (power of attorney, living will, etc.).
  • Help maintain connections with loved ones, friends and support networks in the community: isolation increases vulnerability to abuse.
  • Make sure your parent opens their own mail and has their own phone (and knows how to use it).

Visit a BayBridge senior living community to see how we help seniors feel safe and comfortable. Drop by today for a visit.

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