Elder abuse is any action or inaction by a person in a relationship of trust which jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older person.
Elder abuse can happen to older adults living in their homes or in care facilities.
There are several types of abuse, those being physical, sexual, emotional, financial and neglect. The most common types of abuse are financial and emotional.
Canadian prevalence rates suggest that 4 to 10% of Canadian seniors are abused. By extrapolating this percentage to Manitoba, it is estimated that between 7,500 and 19,000 seniors in Manitoba are victims of elder abuse each year. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as only 1 in 5 cases come to the attention of someone who can help.
Some examples of physical abuse may include:
“I am not as independent as I used to be. I need help with certain tasks. I try my best to do things on my own and I know that it takes me longer to do things than it used to. My daughter helps me but I am ashamed to admit that sometimes she shakes me and even hits me.”
Sexual Abuse is defined as pressuring or forcing somebody to engage in sexual activity.
Some examples of sexual abuse may include:
“My husband has always been very controlling. He has never hit me but lately he pressures me into sexually activity even when I don’t feel like it. He makes me feel guilty so I do.”
Emotional Abuse is defined as any act (verbal or non-verbal) that causes pain or distress.
Some examples of emotional abuse may include:
“I don’t have a big family and have outlived most of my friends. My niece is the only family member I see regularly. I am 85 but still feel good and am able to do most things for myself. My niece calls me old and lazy and says I should be thankful I have her to take care of me.”
Financial abuse is defined as the illegal or inappropriate use of another person’s money or property.
Some examples of financial abuse may include:
“I have been living with my daughter and son-in-law since my wife passed away. Last week, my son-in-law asked me to sign a power of attorney so he could help with my affairs. I’m not sure what this document is, but he is insisting I sign it.”
Neglect is defined as the failure to meet the needs of an older adult who cannot meet those needs on his/her own
Two types of neglect:
Some examples of neglect may include:
“A friend moved from her apartment to her son’s home a few months ago. I have only seen her twice since. Last week, I went to her son’s place to see her and he never left us alone. I noticed a drastic change in her appearance. Her hair was messy, she didn’t have her dentures in and she had old food stains on her blouse. I am very worried about her.”