Episode 17

Elder Abuse


April 12th, 2019

19 mins 43 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Why is this a problem? Taking care of a senior can be difficult when he or she has many different needs, and it can be difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur. Researchers generally agree that the state of knowledge regarding elder abuse is about three decades behind the state of knowledge on child abuse and about one decade behind that of domestic violence. Elder abuse is a complex problem that crosses cultures, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. It can happen anywhere, at any time, and to any senior. It tends to take place where the senior lives: most often in the home where abusers are apt to be adult children; other family members such as grandchildren; or spouses/partners of elders. Institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities can also be sources of elder abuse. In the presentation by Tammy Rankin, Elder Abuse Advisor for the Regional Municipality of Durham, viewers will learn the varying types of elder abuse along with key indicators that this might be happening. Ms. Rankin covers reasons for victims’ reluctance to disclose abuse along with suggestions for crisis/distress line responders who support these types of callers. Questions for Further Consideration: 1. Reflect on your attitudes and the manner in which you have communicated or interacted with an elderly person in your past. Are there situations that could have been handled more respectfully or with increased patience? In our hurried world, it is possible to sometimes forget to take the time to listen or be patient with the extra time that some older individuals may need to complete a thought or task. There are a number of sensitivity initiatives that are taking place across the country. It might be inspiring to view the You-Tube video in the Links section of this learning module. Are you able to recognize indicators of abuse in seniors? Two questions to help recognize indicators of abuse are: “Why is this situation causing me concerns?” and “What am I observing – hearing?” If you have a suspicion that makes you feel uncomfortable, causes concern that something may not be right, or have an awkward feeling about what you have heard, then you should trust your instincts. What would you do if you suspected that a caller to your crisis/distress line is a victim of elder abuse? At present there is no mandatory report legislation for elder abuse in Ontario. You may want to consider ethical obligations to the situation while following confidentiality guidelines. You cannot report abuse unless you have been provided with consent or permission. As a crisis/distress line responder, you can provide an empathetic and listening ear; discuss and evaluate safety issues; explore options; and offer resources for support or intervention. In all cases, it is a good idea to contact your training coordinator to review protocol and responsibilities. There may be situations that need further exploration regarding the senior’s rights. Additional Information and Facts: Rights for Adults (International Federation of Ageing, 1999): Adults have the right to: Basic requirements for life: to be guaranteed food, shelter, clothing, health care and social interaction Autonomy/self-determination: to live life as they wish and control their affairs to the full extent of their ability Safety and protection: to live their lives free from abuse Freedom: to accept or refuse assistance, intervention or medical treatments, and to live at risk, provided they are competent to choose and do not harm others Privacy: to share only that which they wish to share Confidentiality: to be assured information, which becomes known about them, will only be shared with other professionals after providing informed consent Dignity and Respect: to have their dignity and information respected Access to Information: to be able to access the information necessary to make meaningful and informed choices; and to be fully informed about their civil and legal rights Types of Abuse: Financial Neglect Violation of rights Physical and Medical Abuse Sexual Emotional/Psychological Risk Factors for Abuse: History of Abuse in Family/Domestic Violence Increased Vulnerability Diminished Capacity to Make Decisions Isolation The Most Common Abused Older Adult is: Over the age of 75 Widowed or living alone Socially isolated Under the control or influence of the abuser With some degree of mental incapacity and some degree of physical fragility Barriers to Disclosure: Fears more abuse Feels humiliated or ashamed Blames themselves for the abuse Fears a loss of affection Worries about what will happen to him or herself and /or the abuser Believes that family honour is at stake Believes that privacy is at stake Has a history of abuse