June 15, 2006: 1st Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
June 12, 2021

Week of June 12 – June 16, 2021

I would like to devote this week’s journal to what I believe is a very important cause and deserves a great deal of attention. The cause is the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) and it will occur on Thursday, June 15, 2006.

June 15th was designated WEAAD in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action, which recognizes the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. Elder abuse can be defined as any act that harms a senior or jeopardizes his or her health or welfare. It can take the form of financial, emotional, or physical abuse and neglect. The abuse can occur in the home, in a residential setting or in the community. Research has shown that between four and ten per cent (60,000 to 150,000) of Ontario’s seniors, experience some form of abuse. A recent Statistics Canada survey revealed that 68 per cent of seniors, who reported that they had been physically abused, reported that they were assaulted by a family member and in those cases, the abuser was most often adult children (42 per cent) or spouses (31 per cent).

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, followed by emotional and physical abuse and neglect. Financial abuse can include frauds and scams, as well as improper use of the power of a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property. The elderly are also at risk of abuse in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other, long-term care facilities. Social isolation can be another significant risk factor for an older person to suffer mistreatment.

There are many signs and symptoms of elder abuse including: delay between the time of injury and seeking medical attention, implausible or vague explanations for injuries or ill health, differing case histories from patient and the caregiver, frequent visits to emergency departments, a functionally-impaired older person attending appointments or traveling to the hospital without their main caregiver, as well as laboratory findings that are inconsistent with the history provided.

WEAAD will focus efforts around the world to raise awareness of elder abuse in a co-ordinated manner for the first time. Efforts by experts and community groups, such as the Dufferin Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse, will explore and promote elder abuse awareness and will host events, such as cultural, educational, art and social activities, as well as networking with other entities, to assist the public understand that elder abuse can be prevented. The Dufferin Network will be hosting their event at the Lord Dufferin Centre beginning at 10:30 a.m. on June 15th. If you are interested in participating in this particular event, please register by calling Pat at 519-941-6012.

I applaud the efforts made by our local community groups to raise awareness of this important issue, as elder abuse can happen to anyone by anyone. The first step towards ending elder abuse is to empower older adults, as well as raising our own awareness of the problem.