Elder abuse is most often defined as: single or repeated acts, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person (World Health Organization, 2002).
Self-neglect refers to a person's inability to provide care and support to himself or herself, and can happen as a result of an individual's choice of lifestyle. Or, the person may be depressed, in poor health, have cognitive (memory or decision-making) problems, or be physically unable to care for themself. Conceptually, self-neglect is different than someone else harming the older adult (Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2006).
Any senior can experience abuse, regardless of their culture, gender, race, financial status, or mental and/or physical conditions. Abused seniors are often socially isolated, with few friends or family in whom to confide.
Seniors with physical disabilities are at increased risk for physical, sexual, financial or other forms of abuse and/or neglect. Not only are they more vulnerable; the abuse is likely to be chronic and severe.
Unfortunately, in many cases, abusers are family members. They can also be friends, neighbours, care providers or anyone in a position of authority or power over the older adult.
Elder abuse can also occur in hospitals, long-term care facilities or retirement homes.
There is no single cause of abuse. As we learn more, theories continue to be developed.
Often, however, one or more of the following factors are involved:
While it is not a good idea to jump to conclusions, the signs and symptoms listed above should not be ignored.
For more information, support, and confidential advise, contact:
The Halton Regional Police Service
9-1-1 (Emergencies Only)
Constable Nadine Clarke
905-825-4747 ext. 5345
Elder Abuse Prevention Committee of Halton
Halton Seniors Helpline