MEDICINE HAT, AB — As Alberta’s population continues to age, seniors organizations are doing their part to help prevent elder abuse.
According to a report from Statistics Canada released last year, there were 11,380 senior victims (aged 65 to 89 years) of police-reported violence in Canada in 2017. Of that number, one third were victimized by a family member.
That’s up from a 2015 survey, which found 9,900 seniors were victims of police-reported violence.
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. With the day falling on a Saturday, the Veiner Centre is marking the day on Friday. From 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., there will be an information table set up in the centre, educating seniors about the signs of elder abuse and resources available.
Shantel Ottenbreit, a community resource worker with the City of Medicine Hat, says this year, inclusion is the focus of Wold Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
“What that means to us is making sure people have access to opportunities to reduce social isolation and be able to connect them both into community activities, as well as family and friends,” she said.
Ottenbreit notes the Veiner Centre has made inclusion one of its priorities, hosting multiple classes and activities daily. She notes inclusion also needs to be completed outside of the centre as well.
“It can be as simple as chatting with a friend or a neighbour out in the community, just saying hi and providing that opportunity to connect,” she said.
Ottenbreit says it’s important to focus on inclusion, noting isolation is a factor in many elder abuse cases.
“People who are not connecting in their community and not having a social network around them are going to be easier to fall through some of the cracks,” she said. “They might start to decline and no one would notice, or they might be more at risk of being a victim of elder abuse, and sometimes even our perpetrators, who perpetrate elder abuse, use that as a tactic.”
Elder abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional and financial. Signs a person may be experience elder abuse include withdrawing from activities they once did and showing increased anxiety, fear or depression in relation to a friend, a family member or a care provider. Other signs include unexplained physical injuries and a sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings.
If you have concerns about elder abuse, the Family Violence Information Line is available 24 hours a day at 310-1818. Locally, you can also call the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society at 403-529-1091 or toll-free at 1-800–661-7949.
If you or someone you know is in danger from elder abuse, call 911 immediately.
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