COLUMN: Senior abuse and neglect — it’s not right!

Recognizing the warning signs on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations in 2012.

In recognition of this, the Hope Chapter of the British Columbia Community Response Network (BC CRN) will be hosting information tables at Buy-Low Foods and Save-On Foods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This province-wide group of volunteers provides people with resources to recognize, report, refer and protect vulnerable seniors.

Elder abuse is a serious problem in Canada but exact numbers are virtually impossible to find because many cases go unreported – which is where we can all help.

Do you know an adult or senior who might be experiencing abuse or neglect? Can you recognize the signs? Are you aware of the many resources available to help you, help this vulnerable population?

Perhaps you have a relative, neighbour or acquaintance you suspect may be being taken advantage of, neglected or abused. While physical abuse is the one with which we are most familiar, there are others such as emotional/psychological or financial.

The BC CRN is dedicated to helping people just like you to help seniors and other adults who are being victimized every day.

The problem is growing along with our population of elderly. In 2009, around 107,000 or two per cent of Canadians aged 65 and older said a child, relative friend or caregiver had been emotionally or financially abusive.

EARRS (Elder Abuse Response and Referral Services) lists the following as indicators of possible elder abuse:

• Sudden behavioural changes;

• Mental health deterioration — an increase in fear;

• Anxiety or depression;

• Change in living standards;

• Isolation and non-social behaviour;

• Inexplicable injuries;

• Poor hygiene;

• Malnutrition or dehydration;

•Unusual banking activities, specifically large withdrawals.

Children and senior citizens share one important characteristic: vulnerability. It is our duty to keep them safe from harm, especially abuse or neglect. Be aware and share this information or stop by and chat with the volunteers. They’ll have lots of information – and some handy free items to remind you of what you can do to help. For more helpful information, visit http://www.bccrns.ca

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