Our speaker was Constable Fiona Thivierge, Elder & Mental Health Coordinator  for the Peel Regional Police.  Fiona has been a police office for Peel Region for 22 years and was asked to take on Elder Abuse last November. 

Elder abuse has become more prevelant as the population ages. There are several new TV ads relating to Elder abuse. The push to make us more aware of this is due to the demographic change and aging population. 

 

What is Elder Abuse?  It is any action, or inaction which causes harm to an older person. The abuser is usually a family member, friend, neighbour or care provider.

What are the signs of Elder Abuse?  Suspicious or unexplained injuries, poor hygiene, bedsores, anxiety, depression, fear, malnutrition or dehydration, missing property, isolation, unnecessary confinement.

There are four types of abuse:

1. Physical - moving them forcibly or roughly ( pushing,  pulling hair), hitting, kicking:  inappropriate medication - either over or under medicating:  physical restraint - locking them in their room, tieing them to their bed :  unwanted sexual acts .  All of these are crimes, punishable by law.

2. Emotional Abuse  - insulting,  bullying, frightening, humiliating,  threatening isolation: not meeting spiritual needs: exc;usion from meaningful events. Some of these may be crimes in certain circumstances e.g it is a crime to threaten physically  harm a person.

3. Financial Abuse - misuse of Power of Attorney: stealing ( money or pensions cheques) , theft, forgery: forcing them to sell personal property.  All of these are crimes, punishable by law.

4. Neglect - failing to provide basic necessities (food, shelter, medical care or physcal aids such as glasses or hearing aids); endangering or failing to keep an elderly person safe.  These are crimes punishable by law.

There are many reasons why elder abuse occurs - stress, time restrictions, money problems, if there is abuse in the family chances are the elders are abused.

Many seniors do not report the abuse. Often they don't speak English, don't know the laws, they have a  fear of the police. They may not know they can report these situations and often the abuser is  a son or daughter and they do not want them to get into trouble.  There is also a certain amount of "what happens in the family, stays in the famiy".

It behoves us all to keep an eye on seniors we know . We should encourage them to seek support and assistance when needed. We can give them the opportunity to talk about any abuse, educate ourselves about abuse and treat all seniors with respect.

Constable Thivierge concluded her speech by saying "those who stand by without reporting abuse are giving permission for the abuse to happen"