Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Protecting Seniors as a Community

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day—an important opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to protecting seniors from abuse and educating our community to join us in this mission. 

Elders are a valuable part of our communities. They are full of wisdom, experience, and if you listen, they share some of the most interesting life stories you will ever hear. It’s vital we recognize the signs of abuse to ensure seniors are being treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

How do we identify elder abuse?

Abuse isn't always obvious, so identifying it can sometimes be challenging. It can take on different forms—physical, emotional, verbal, or financial—and each one can profoundly impact the victim's health and safety. Recognizing the multiple signs of abuse is crucial. If you suspect a case of elder abuse, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Are they suddenly acting more withdrawn?

  • Are they missing events or other social occasions?

  • Are they missing their doctor’s appointments?

  • Are they missing bill payments?

  • Are they missing any medications?

  • Do you see unexplained bruises or other injuries?

  • Have you noticed any subtle or significant changes in their behaviour that don’t have an obvious explanation?

  • If they live in a community setting, have you noticed less food available to them?

  • If they wear a hearing aid, is it clean and in good working condition?

If you notice signs like these or any other irregularities, voice your concerns to a professional—either to the leadership team of your loved one’s residence, their doctor, or even report it to the police.

Who is committing elder abuse?

Constable Chantelle Kelly recently spoke to Optima Living about protecting seniors from abuse and highlights a sad truth:

“Elder abuse victims typically are being abused by people they know. Generally, it's caregivers, it's family, friends and things of that nature.”

-Constable Chantelle Kelly, Strathcona County RCMP Detachment

This is an unfortunate reality, but it is true that those responsible for providing care can be the ones inflicting abuse. This is why cases often go unreported by the victim. It’s also why it’s important to look into and report on all suspected cases; the senior in question may not be willing to admit what is happening to them based on who the abuse is coming from. When they tell you something, it’s important to listen. As Constable Kelly tells us, “We want to believe seniors when they say that they're not being treated properly.” It can be advisable to convey your concerns to more than one trusted person to make sure it is dealt with and they can work on eliminating the avenues of abuse. 

How is Optima Living protecting its residents from abuse?

At each of our communities across Western Canada, we are protecting seniors from abuse with robust internal accountability and monitoring procedures. Our Care Partners are instructed on the telltale signs of abuse, no matter how subtle, and report them to community leadership, regardless of the source. 

We take great pride and care in establishing a culture of responsibility and an environment where every person within Optima Living is fully committed to our mission of making sure our residents always feel safe, secure, and welcomed home.

This culture of care and accountability is woven into the very foundation of Optima Living, allowing our residents to feel safe and respected. We encourage you to join us in our ongoing mission of protecting seniors.

“If you're noticing signs of elder abuse in the seniors around you, we want you to report it. We want to make sure that they're safe and we want to make sure that anybody in a vulnerable position is taken care of.”

-Constable Chantelle Kelly, Strathcona County RCMP Detachment

How can I report elder abuse?

Alberta: Click here to find resources, support, and helplines to call if you want to report elder abuse. 

British Columbia: Call the Seniors Abuse & Information Line (SAIL) at 604-437-1940 or toll-free at 1-866-437-1940, seven days a week from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. For more information about their programs and resources, visit Seniors First BC.