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Senior Support

Elder abuse is the abuse or mistreatment of seniors, and can cause harm to a person's health, safety, or well-being. Elder Abuse is often referred to as ‘The Hidden Crime’ and is a growing concern within our region. It is not often talked about and may not be easily recognized.

Elder abuse is defined by someone within a relationship who is trusted to the victim, and causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, financial or sexual. Elder abuse can also be neglect.  The abuser could be a family member, a friend or a service worker. Many will feel ashamed or fearful and do not talk about the abuse to anyone.

Types of elder abuse

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse. This could be misuse of money or household goods like jewelry. The abuser will sometimes use other forms of abuse like isolation from family and friends to take advantage of the situation. Signs of financial abuse include: an elders home being sold unexpectedly, large sums of money taken from a bank account and an elder is in debt and does not know why.

Any pain or injury that is inflicted on an elder by a person is considered abuse. Warning signs of this abuse should be when an elder does not have an explanation for injuries or they have frequent injuries. This includes: hitting, slapping, pinching, pushing, burning, pulling hair, shaking, physical restrain, physical coercion, forced feeling or withholding physical necessities.

Sexual abuse involves threats or force of a person without consent. It includes: rape, sexual harassment, fondling and inappropriate sexual comments.

This form of abuse inflicts mental anguish on an individual. It could be making the elder fearful of violence or isolation. Psychological abuse includes: yelling, ignoring the person, scolding, shouting, insulting, threatening, humiliation, isolation and control. This abuse can result in the elder having low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal, fearfulness, and significant change in weight.

Any form of verbal communication of a belittling or degrading nature which may diminish a seniors sends of well-being, dignity or self-worth.

Elder abuse prevention

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of elder abuse:

• Keep yourself busy by joining a club of interest, go out with friends and volunteer.
• Have a good relationship with friends and family. Keep in touch as much as possible.
• Have any cheques that you may receive go directly into your bank account.
• Keep educated and attend seminars on elder abuse to know your rights.

To prevent elder abuse:

 Educate yourself on the rights of elders by attending seminars or joining a committee.
• Explain the rights to elders.
• Take the time to speak to elders about their current situation and listen carefully to what they have to say.

Who to call about elder abuse 

If you or someone you know is in immediate or you need emergency help please call 9-1-1

If you, or a senior you know is a victim of elder abuse please contact one of the following:

  • Region of Durham, Advisor-Seniors' Safety: 905-668-7711 ext. 2460
  • Durham Regional Police, Seniors Support Co-ordinator: 905-579-1520 ext. 1865
  • Seniors CRIMESTOPPERS: 1-800-222-8477

Durham Elder Abuse Network

The Durham Elder Abuse Network (DEAN) is made up of health service providers from both private and non profit services for seniors or organizations with a vested interested in seniors. Dedicated elder abuse experts in Durham Region support the network. DEAN provides education, information and advocacy on all issues relating to elder abuse and protecting seniors.

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