What is Senior Abuse?
Senior abuse is defined by the World Health Organization as a single or repeated act, or lack of action, occurring within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Types of Abuse
Financial abuse is defined as the misuse and theft of a person's money or property. This includes withholding funds, withholding access to medical devices, fraud, cashing cheques without permission, and misuse of power of attorney.
Signs of Financial Abuse:
- Large amounts of money are missing from bank account.
- Cheques have suspicious looking signatures.
- Bank statements are no longer being sent to the senior's home.
- Senior's belongings are missing.
- Senior cannot account for missing money, money transfers, or signing certain financial papers.
- Senior is asked to sign legal papers without understanding what they are for or the details of the document.
- Senior is not allowed to talk with others or make decisions for themselves.
- Senior is no longer able to meet financial obligations.
Physical abuse is an intentional act of violence or mistreatment of a senior resulting in physical discomfort. Physical abuse involves the use of unwanted physical or chemical restraints. Examples include slapping, pinching, intentionally over or under medicating, force feeding, or withholding physical necessities.
Signs of Physical Abuse:
Signs of physical abuse include: unexplained or inconsistent explanations for bruises, marks, rope burns, and other signs of harm. Wearing clothing that is inappropriate for the season or weather may also be a sign of physical abuse.
Emotional abuse is when a person humiliates, isolates, frightens, or takes advantage of another person. This type of abuse reduces a person's dignity and self-esteem and is often hard to detect because there are no physical signs of the abuse.
Signs of Emotional Abuse:
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeps excessively.
- Withdrawn from family and friends.
- States feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
- Unexplained fearfulness.
- Shows signs of low self-esteem.
- Unexplained tearfulness.
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual behaviour directed at a person without their consent or who is unable to give consent. Some examples of unwanted sexual behaviours include rape, sexual harassment, fondling a confused person, exposing one's self, and/or inappropriate sexual comments.
Signs of Sexual Abuse:
- Senior has developed a genital infection.
- Senior is experiencing pain in the genital area.
- Senior has signs of internal injuries.
- Senior makes inappropriate sexual comments.
Neglect is the withholding of basic and essential human needs such as food, water, housing, medical attention, and/or social interaction . Neglect can be broken down into active and passive neglect. Active neglect is the intentional failure of a caregiver to provide someone with basic need. Passive neglect is the unintentional act where the caregiver cannot provide basic need. This can be a result of lack of knowledge, lack of financial means, or lack of caring ability.
Signs of Neglect:
- Senior appears malnourished or dehydrated.
- Senior is wrongly dressed, or appears unkempt (not shaven, hair is messy, appears to have not showered).
- Senior's home is dirty and unkempt.
- Senior's home smells of urine or feces.
- Senior lacks proper safety equipment either for themselves or for their home.
What to Do if You Know Someone is Being Abused?
Acknowledge what the person is telling you.
Do not judge the person
Listen to what they have to tell you. Let them know you care and offer support.
Know that it is difficult for the person being abused to try and change their relationship.
Inform them of community resources they can use and encourage them to get help.
Do not confront the abuser because this could put you or the person being abused in danger.
How to Prevent Abuse?
- Educate yourself about abuse.
- Stay active, go out with friends, join a gym.
- Have cheques directly deposited into your account.
- Have bills paid automatically from your account.
- Who Can Help?
Information and Support Links to Help Seniors
Call to Report Elder Abuse
Emergency – 911
City of Brockville Police – (613) 342-0127
Gananoque Police – (613) 382- 4422
Smiths Falls – (613) 284-4500
Prescott Police – (613) 925-4221
Perth Police – (613) 267-2626