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Elder abuse awareness in spotlight

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario proclaimed Oct. 19 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

This day is intended to bring public awareness to the issue of elder abuse—a hidden problem affecting today’s older adults.

Elder abuse can be defined as any action that harms an older person or jeopardizes the person’s health or welfare.

Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or financial abuse, as well as situations of neglect.

Elder abuse occurs in the privacy of one’s home, in a facility setting, or in the community. Research indicates about 80 percent of elder abuse goes unreported.

Research from Canada shows that between four and 10 percent of older adults will experience some type of abuse during their later years by someone they trust or rely on.

Signs of elder abuse can include:

•unexplained physical injuries;

•depression, anxiety, or fear;

•social isolation;

•changes in hygiene and nutrition;

•lack of food, clothing, or basic necessities; and

•unmet financial obligations and/or unusual banking withdrawals.

If you or someone you know has been abused or is experiencing abuse, help is available. Call 9-1-1, the police, or community service agency for immediate assistance.

Support is available by talking to a trusted friend, family member, clergy, mental health professional, medical professional, legal professional, or shelter.

You also can get information on elder abuse by calling the Ministry of Attorney General’s Victim Support Line toll-free across Ontario at 1-888-579-2888.

Editor’s note: The above was submitted by Gerri Yerxa of the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program, on behalf of the Elder Abuse Awareness Committee.

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