As Canada’s population continues to grow at a rapid rate and demographics shift, more and more seniors in our communities are becoming targets of mistreatment and abuse. An alarming amount of senior men and women find themselves victim to various forms of mistreatment by personal support workers, nurses, nursing home staff and others. Whether it is an isolated incident or a consistent pattern of mistreatment, it is important to recognize the signs of elder abuse and intervene in order to protect our loved ones.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse includes actions that cause physical, mental, sexual or financial harm to an older adult. Seniors living in retirement homes, nursing homes and long-term care facilities can fall victim to these kinds of abuses. However, while many cases are recorded in the above facilities, elder abuse can happen anywhere, and it is important to recognize the signs of abuse early on.

What To Look For
When it comes to elder abuse, a change in personality and behaviour may be one of the first signs indicating something abnormal is taking place. But because elder abuse can take on a number of different forms, it’s important to know the signs for physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and financial abuse.

Physical Abuse:
If you start to notice unexplainable injuries such as bruises, burns, scars, broken bones, scratches, sprains, dislocations and/or the isolation of an older adult, this could be a sign of elder abuse.

Verbal Abuse:
If you encounter an older adult receiving threats or being spoken to in a belittling or degrading nature that diminished their sense of well-being, dignity or self-worth, this is a form of elder abuse.

Emotional Abuse:
If you notice that an older adult has made a dramatic shift in personality or behaviour, has become isolated or developed an increased sense of fear, this could be a sign that elder abuse is taking place.

Sexual Abuse:
If you notice an older adult has trauma around the genitals or breasts, unexplained bleeding, unexplained sexually transmitted infections, torn or stained clothing or a drastic change in behaviour, this could indicate elder abuse is taking place.

Financial Abuse:
If you notice an older adult making unusual banking activity, missing personal belongings, making unexpected changes to wills and power of attorneys, or signing documents they do not understand, this could indicate elder abuse is taking place.

What To Do
If you suspect that someone you know is a victim of elder abuse, it is important to report your concerns.

If the victim is living in a long-term care facility, the abuse can be reported to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care by calling the toll-free ACTION line at 1-866-434-0144.

If the victim is living in a retirement home, the abuse can be reported to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority by calling 1-855-275-7472.

If the victim is living in a long-term care facility or a retirement home, and elder abuse is suspected on reasonable grounds or has occurred, the operators of the facility or retirement home or those providing care to the victim are required to report the abuse pursuant to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. A failure to report the abuse in these circumstances may itself be an offence.

If the victim of abuse lives in their own home, or a different setting than listed above, the abuse can be reported to local police, social services or a legal service.

No matter the setting, elder abuse is a crime and should not go unreported. In the event of elder abuse, victims may be entitled to compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Harrison Pensa can assist you with claims against individuals or institutions that have caused harm to you or a loved one. Our skilled legal team can confidently take on all the details of your case so you or your loved one can focus on recovering and returning to a healthy, normal life. For more information or to consult with one of our personal injury lawyers, contact our office by phone at 1-855-744-9228, by email at personalinjurygroup@harrisonpensa.com or visit our website.

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October 16, 2019

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