July 25th, 2024

Province seeking input on enhanced definition of elder abuse


By Lethbridge Herald on June 18, 2022.

GUEST COLUMN
Josephine Pon
Minister of Seniors and Housing

As Minister of Seniors and Housing, I feel great responsibility for the safety and security of seniors.

It is critically important that Alberta’s government raise awareness of the need to prevent and address elder abuse in Alberta. Because we all need to take strong action on addressing elder abuse.

Prior to 2020, it was estimated that 60,000 Alberta seniors – nearly one in 10 – were subjected to financial, emotional, physical, and other forms of abuse. The stress, isolation, and financial pressures that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic have made a difficult situation worse. We do know that rates of family violence, including elder abuse, tend to increase during and following natural disasters, public health crises, and economic downturns. 

It is anecdotal, but we are concerned community organizations, including some of the seniors-serving organizations my ministry routinely consults with, are reporting an increase in both the incidence, complexity, and severity of elder abuse cases in Alberta. 

Elder abuse doesn’t just harm individual victims, who often silently endure fear, shame, and retreat into isolation. It leaves a permanent scar on families and erodes communities. 

Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring seniors have access to the services and supports they need to live safely and independently in their communities. And our government is committed to new and stronger action to prevent and address elder abuse in Alberta.

Elder abuse is a complex issue that requires a collaborative and cross-sector approach. 

Seniors-serving stakeholders have identified the lack of a consistently applied definition of elder abuse across the province as a gap in the current system. Our first step is to clearly define the term “elder abuse” with input from community organizations and the public.

We are seeking input from stakeholders and the public on an enhanced definition of elder abuse. We will use a new definition to improve information sharing and data collection practices. 

A new definition, to be used in legislation, policies, and programs, will be an foundation for improving the safety and well-being of seniors across the province. 

Albertans are invited to provide input into the new definition online at alberta.ca. The Elder Abuse Prevention – Public Engagement Survey is open from October 4 to 25, and I urge you to respond.

Please remember to call 911 if you, or someone you know, is being abused and is in immediate danger. For non-urgent support, information, and referrals, you can call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818. 

Elder abuse is unacceptable, in any form, for the individuals who should be the most cherished members in any community. We will work with communities, stakeholders, and Albertans of all ages to strengthen protections for seniors and end elder abuse in all its forms.

Together, we can make sure seniors have the respect and dignity they have earned.

 

Share this story:

17
-16
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fairness

You have clearly identified the various forms of Elder Abuse. I feel “enhanced definition of Elder Abuse” should also factor in the abuse of Elders in Seniors’ homes and/or Facilities. One only needs to view some of the videos, where cameras were set up by family members to identify the abusers.

Last edited 2 years ago by Fairness
Southern Albertan

Perhaps, it needs to be understood by, particularly governments, that the main reasons for abuse in long term care facilities include: “shortages of staff; lack of experience and training to care for specific disabilities, illnesses and needs; underpaid employees; poor supervision and accountability; and the type of residents as well as their health issues.” The care needs can be physically and emotionally demanding particularly when, for example, patients with dementia can be abusive.
Re: the issues of financial abuse, we have seen this happen in families where the parents in early years favoured one or two of the children and deferred to them often, and then, in later years, these adult children gatekept the parent(s) and received the financial benefit of $multimillions by being in charge of the family corporation business and being designated with guardianship once the parent(s) were declared incapacitated. It would be difficult to prove based on family dynamics depending on who to believe.

Last edited 2 years ago by Southern Albertan