Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today is National Elder Abuse Awareness Day,

Today is National Elder Abuse Awareness Day, in a month that is set aside for Elder Abuse Recognition. Many groups and agencies across Canada and the US have had events to publicize and help us recognize Elder abuse so we can take steps to stop it. 

Ageism is a contributing factor to elder abuse. Sometimes ageist remarks are unintentionally made or an older adult is treated dismissively. We all need to help seniors feel connected to their families and communities; to feel welcome and included. We need to speak out, speak up and take action. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is one of many opportunities to do so.

Elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action, often occurring in a situation of trust, that causes harm or distress to an older person. Perpetrators may increasingly isolate their victim and older people often suffer in silence, too afraid, ashamed, isolated or dependent on their perpetrator (who may be their caregiver or adult child) to seek assistance.

Ending elder abuse requires changing attitudes about aging and older people, on both a personal and a societal level. We all need to do our part and make an effort to ensure that older British Columbians are supported to be healthy, to be active, to be safe, and to live with dignity. I would like to echo our Premier who said: “Ending violence takes all of us to decide to challenge attitudes, and change behaviour to prevent it from happening in the first place.” This is true whether the abuse includes physical violence, emotional or psychological harassment, financial exploitation or neglect of an older person.

In BC, if you or someone you know is being abused, or if you want information about this serious public health issue, call the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL), operated through the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support. Call 604-437-1940 in Vancouver or 1-866-437-1940, toll free, from anywhere in the province, any day from 8 am to 8 pm daily, excluding statutory holidays. Translation and TYY are available.

The Government of British Columbia has made elder abuse prevention a priority. For information and practical resources, including brochures in English, French, Chinese and Punjabi, please visit the Seniors BC Elder Abuse page.

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