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Elder abuse prevention is everybody’s business

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By Raeann Rideout, CNPEA Co-Chair ---

Recent survey results indicate that approximately 8.2% of older adults are affected by elder abuse in Canada1. However, given that only one in five incidents is disclosed to someone in a position to help, this rate is likely much higher. This discrepancy highlights the need to increase awareness of this issue and to make more resources available to help.

National, provincial and territorial awareness-raising efforts, along with recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 each year, have had a significant impact on raising awareness of this public health issue. However, there continues to be inconsistency amongst the general public, frontline workers and health care providers about how to respond to concerns about elder abuse. In addition, jurisdictions across the country have different legislative approaches when responding to situations of elder abuse.

Through funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program (Employment and Social Development Canada), the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse has developed a national online hub, where visitors can find resources, tools and blog articles written by key experts in the field on current research, best practices in interventions and programs, as well as challenges in elder abuse prevention. The Hub also serves as a central point of contact for professionals across all sectors and disciplines to support the development of effective elder abuse prevention and response strategies. In addition, webinars and other knowledge exchange opportunities are held here regularly on key topics of interest.  

Elder abuse has significant social and economic costs. In particular, costs to the health care system are seen in physician offices, emergency rooms and long-term care homes every day. The impact of elder abuse on the quality of life of older adults is significant and prevention is everybody’s business. 

1 McDonald, L. (2016). Into the Light: National Study on the Mistreatment of Older Canadians. National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly, Toronto, ON.