The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has provided the following information to help ensure the safety of Halton's seniors. We encourage seniors in our community, and their loved ones, to contact police if elder abuse is occurring or there is a safety concern that requires police assistance.

What is Elder Abuse?

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).

Elder Abuse can be:

Physical

  • Slapping, pinching, or punching
  • Other rough handling
  • Sexual assault
  • Forced confinement

Neglect

  • Inadequate hygiene
  • Administration of medicine (too much or not enough)
  • Failure to ensure appropriate medical care
  • Emaciation, malnourishment, dehydration

Financial

  • Dishonest use of money or assets
  • Overcharging for services
  • Misuse of Power of Attorney

Psychological

  • Verbal assaults
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Social isolation
  • Being treated as a child

What are the possible signs of Elder Abuse?

The following signs and symptoms should not be ignored and may be a sign of Elder Abuse:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Fear, uneasiness
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal or passivity
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Missing personal belongings
  • Lack of food, clothing, or other necessities
  • Unusual bank withdrawals
  • Unusual legal activity related to wills or other documents

What should I do if I suspect Elder Abuse?

If you suspect elder abuse, we encourage you to seek information, support, and confidential advice from:

The Halton Regional Police Service

Senior Safety Line:
1-866-299-1011
Additional information is available on the Senior Safety Line website

Who is at risk of being abused?

Any older adult can experience abuse, regardless of their culture, gender, race, financial status, or mental and/or physical conditions. Abused older adults are often socially isolated, with few friends or family in whom to confide.

Older adults 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.

Who are the abusers?

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.

What leads to Elder Abuse?

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:

  • History of abuse in the family
  • Financial, housing, or chronic health problems
  • Caregiver having difficulty coping with the responsibilities and has limited support or respite
  • Alcohol or drug dependency
  • Mental health problems
  • Social or personal attitudes toward the elderly

Self-Neglect: A Form of Abuse or Neglect?

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 themselves. Conceptually, self-neglect is different than someone else harming the older adult (Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2006).

Contact Information

Constable Mathew Rocca
Older Adult Support Officer
905-825-4747 ext. 5243