Experts take aim at elder abuse
November 24, 2012
BY MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE STAFF REPORTER
The federal government in 2010 estimated up to 10 per cent of seniors in Canada suffered some type of abuse or neglect, says the RCMP.
In Nova Scotia, the government has said elder abuse is expected to grow as the population ages. Nearly 700 people in the province turn 65 every month, said the government’s 2005 elder abuse strategy.
Abuse victims whose allegations are reported come in contact with police, social workers, health-care personnel, clergy or other professionals trained in geriatrics or used to helping seniors.
But at the grassroots level, professionals need not be the only people teaching seniors about abuse of older adults, a Halifax conference on aging heard Thursday.
Volunteer peer educators — seniors talking to seniors — can do the public awareness job well, delegates were told.
A workshop heard about a two-year, federally funded project run out of the University of Prince Edward Island that recruited Island retirees to give public presentations on elder abuse.
Local folks signed up to get trained for talks where they provided basic information on the mistreatment of seniors.
Volunteers committed to speaking at two sessions a year, usually in their communities on the island or nearby.
Project leaders Lori Weeks and Olive Bryanton told the Halifax conference the program helped open seniors’ eyes to the harm older people could be subjected to from relatives, friends or others.
There are various forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial and neglect, delegates heard.
Bryanton said abusers are rarely strangers.
“It’s usually someone you know, someone you trust and it could be your family member.”
According to the provincial government, 5,000 to 13,500 older people in Nova Scotia “experience harm and poor health or well-being because of abuse.” However, abuse is always underreported, so it is believed these figures are low, a government website said.
Weeks and Bryanton were addressing a conference at a local hotel organized by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, part of Mount Saint University in Halifax.
SOURCE: The Chronicle Herald
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