Elder abuse is a social crime that is largely unreported. It encompasses neglect, financial abuse, sexual or physical abuse, medical abuse and emotional/psychological abuse.
On Saturday the Golden Circle is having an open community discussion from 1-3 p.m. to give people resources on identifying and stopping elder abuse.
“We’re trying to create and raise awareness around elder abuse. It is a social issue. Everybody has a responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t continue,” said Golden Circle Executive Director Monica Morrison.
“It’s the same with child abuse. Now people call in when they see child abuse, and we want the same thing to happen for people witnessing elder abuse to make this a safe community for elderly people.”
The Golden Circle will offer scenarios to demonstrate different kinds of abuse, and provide resources for those who witness these events.
“The most common form of abuse that we hear about is financial abuse. That is where a family member is taking money from a parent or grandparent, misusing the directives put in place around finances and cleaning out bank accounts,” said Morrison. “Then the seniors themselves do not have the financial resources to get food, pay rent, what have you.”
The Golden Circle has provided a 1-877 number that provides around-the-clock resources and information on dealing with elder abuse.
Also, the Golden Circle has joined with Family Services of Central Alberta and the Central Alberta Council on Aging to form the Generations Project.
The project focuses on two aspects – an elder abuse protocol for identifying and reporting abuse and education awareness workshops that are provided to seniors lodges, long-term care facilities and other similar associations.
“We are trying to raise awareness around the issue of elder abuse and to encourage people to take action and to tell people that they can do something about it,” explained Morrison.
“It’s all about having the right to say no. Or, challenging a family member who has been given the right to do finances, but is mistreating that duty.”
If abuse happens at a care facility, it is in violation of the Protection for Persons In Care Act. This provides resources and support to end abuse that has been reported, and is the first line of defence when ending abusive behaviours.
“Just come and join us, learn what elder abuse is. We want to get people talking about this. The idea is to ‘start the conversation’ (the theme of the event.)”