What Is Elder Abuse in Canada? A Brief and Clear Discussion2022-07-17
Elder abuse is a global problem, not only in Canada. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 1 in 6 seniors aged 60 and older suffered from some form of abuse in the community setting in 2021.
On the other hand, Canadian research conducted in 2004 showed that an estimated 10% of seniors are victims of elder abuse each year.
Find out more about elder abuse, the common types of elder abuse, warning signs, and how to get help if you or someone around you is a victim of elder abuse.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder or senior abuse is any mistreatment resulting in harm or loss inflicted on a senior. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or psychological in nature. Elder abuse can also occur when a senior is neglected or deprived of basic needs, such as food and shelter.
There are various types of elder abuse, but some of the most common include:
1. Physical Abuse
This type of elder abuse refers to the intentional use of force against a senior that results in physical pain or injury. Physical abuse can include hitting, shoving, pulling hair, biting, choking, and restraining. It can also involve the use of drugs or alcohol to control a senior.
2. Sexual Abuse
This type of elder abuse refers to any non-consensual sexual contact with a senior. Sexual abuse can include unwanted touching, kissing, fondling, and penetration. It can also involve forcing a senior to participate in sexual acts or view sexual material against their will.
3. Emotional Abuse
This type of elder abuse refers to any verbal or nonverbal action that causes psychological trauma to a senior. Emotional abuse can include yelling, name-calling, shaming, threatening, intimidating, isolating, and manipulating.
4. Financial Abuse
This elder abuse occurs when someone misuses or takes a senior’s money or property without permission. Financial abuse can include:
- Stealing cash.
- Using a senior’s credit card without permission.
- Forging their signature.
- Coercing them into signing a document.
5. Psychological Abuse
This type of elder abuse refers to any action that causes mental or emotional anguish to a senior. Psychological abuse can include threats, playing mind games, gaslighting, and humiliating a senior.
Neglect occurs when someone fails to provide the basic needs required for a senior’s health and wellbeing. It can include not providing sufficient food or water, adequate medical care, failing to assist with personal hygiene, or leaving a senior in an unsafe environment.
Note the difference between negligence and medical malpractice. Neglect occurs when someone fails to provide the basic needs required for a senior’s health and wellbeing due to ignorance or carelessness. On the other hand, medical malpractice happens when a healthcare professional is aware of the potential consequences of their actions but proceeds anyway.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
The warning signs of elder abuse can vary depending on the type of abuse that is taking place. But general warning signs may indicate that a senior is being abused. These warning signs include:
- Bruises, cuts, welts, or broken bones
- Unexplained injuries
- Poor hygiene or appearance
- Unusual weight loss or gain
- Bruises around the breasts or genitals
- Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
- STDs or unexplained sexually transmitted infections
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Unusual mood swings
- Fearfulness or agitation
- Sudden changes in a power of attorney or will
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts
- Missing cash or belongings
- Untreated medical issues
- Poor hygiene
- Unsafe living conditions
- Lack of food or water
In the hospital setting, elder abuse can also happen through surgical errors, medication errors, inadequate staff, or any type of neglect or abuse by the hospital staff. It’s important to know that there are surgical error lawyers who can help you if you or a senior around you has been the victim of elder abuse in the hospital setting.
Preventing Elder Abuse
If you are a senior, you can do the following steps to protect yourself from abuse:
- Being aware of the warning signs of elder abuse
- Knowing your rights
- Speaking up if you feel like you are being abused
- Having a support system in place
If you are a caregiver, there are also things that you can do to prevent elder abuse. These steps include:
- Getting training on how to care for a senior
- Learning about the signs of elder abuse
- Creating a support system
As a responsible relative and a member of the community, you can also help prevent elder abuse by:
- Being aware of the warning signs of elder abuse.
- Reporting any suspected abuse to the authorities.
Elder or senior abuse is a serious problem affecting many seniors yearly. Unfortunately, elder abuse is often underreported, and many seniors suffer in silence. If you suspect that an elderly is being abused, it’s essential to speak up. Only by speaking up can we hope to put an end to this problem.
Also, educate yourself, elders you know, and others about how to spot senior abuse and how and who to report it. For example, elders can work with medical malpractice attorneys if they’ve been abused in the hospital setting.