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Time to Start a Reflection to Stop Senior Abuse

By the Réseau FADOQ

It can be difficult for a senior person to recognize they are being abused when the perpetrator is a relative. It is equally difficult to admit you’ve been the victim of a phone scam—no one wants to look stupid. And let’s not forget the possible fear of reprisal for reporting mistreatment.

Violence, fraud and abuse afflict a growing number of people aged 65 and over. In Quebec, statistics show that 7 to 10% of seniors are victims of abuse, but this is only the tip of the iceberg, since the majority of cases are not reported or recognized by victims. Therefore, we need to ask an essential question: “How can this disturbing trend be reversed?”

For over 45 years, the Réseau FADOQ has been working to end the isolation of people aged 50 and up while fostering their sense of belonging and advocating their rights before public bodies.

It’s a well-known fact that Quebec’s population is aging rapidly. By 2030, more than 28% of the population will be 65 or older. Despite this reality, no concrete plan or commitment for Quebec’s senior population is forthcoming.

Accordingly, the Réseau FADOQ condemns the fact that a provincial framework on aging has been long overdue for over 20 years. It is difficult to understand the Quebec government’s vision—if it even exists. However, the new demographic situation requires immediate action to involve the public in this major shift.

Quebec media have never talked so much about senior citizens, but unfortunately, it’s all the wrong reasons. The State’s limited capacity to meet the needs of seniors with reduced autonomy is highlighted daily. The media also regularly relay sad and recurring tales of abuse, violence and fraud.

What can be done to protect these vulnerable individuals? Faced with the nonchalance of public bodies, the Réseau FADOQ started a program to inform seniors and their relatives about various types of abuse and fraud.

The Senior-Aware program, which was developed in collaboration with the CSSS Cavendish in Montréal and the Sûreté du Québec, is designed to educate seniors on abuse and fraud, show them examples of real situations using five videos shot especially for the program, and refer them to appropriate resources as necessary. The objective is to help them recognize existing hazards.

To date, more than 45,000 seniors have attended the information sessions. Of course, our work is far from over, and we are developing a component on intimidation to raise awareness of this increasingly common problem.

In the end, we need to take a holistic approach to dealing with abuse. Aging demographics are creating an urgent need for a national action plan to deal with various issues which, if properly managed, could become great opportunities for the development and evolution of social policies throughout Canada.

About the Authors

Ms. Caroline Bouchard, Public Affairs and Government Relations Advisor 

Ms. Karine Corbeil, Special Project Coordinator

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