Like all forms of abuse, abuse of the elderly can remain a deep, dark secret, leaving the victim feeling frightened, alone and extremely vulnerable.
And even if the secret of abuse does come to light and someone becomes aware of it, it can still remain, like the elephant in the room, an issue that is ignored and even denied.
Pauline Hansen from Rimbey FCSS, who is project co-ordinator for the New Horizon Elderly Abuse Awareness Program, said senior abuse is prevalent in every community.
“It’s a huge issue everywhere,” she said. “People don’t want to face the fact and they don’t want to talk to anyone about it, but it’s out there.”
Hansen has been working with the government-funded program since its inception in October and said awareness of the problem is important.
A fact sheet from the Public Health Agency of Canada, National Clearing House on Family Violence’s website: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/nc-cn states some of the signs of financial abuse of seniors include sudden unexplained changes in bank account or banking practices, including unauthorized ATM withdrawals.
Attempts to include additional names on a senior’s bank signature card and sudden interest in the senior’s financial affairs without their knowledge and unexplained changes to a will or other financial document can also be signs of financial abuse.
A sudden drop in cash flow or financial holdings or a quick transfer of assets without the direct involvement of the senior or suspicious looking signatures on cheques and documents are other indications of abuse.
Physical abuse can include striking, hitting, pushing, shaking, burning and shoving.
Signs of possible physical or sexual abuse may include unexplained depression, fear or paranoia, discomfort or anxiety in the presence of certain people, unexplained burns, scratches, bruises, cuts or swellings and value or illogical explanations for injuries.
For more information about senior abuse call 1-800-800-0 Canada (1-800-622-6232) or visit www.seniors.gc.ca.