June 15, 2016 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day -There are currently 900 million individuals aged 60 years and older in the global population and this number is expected to increase to 2 billion in 2050. Currently, it’s estimated that around 1 in 10 elders experience abuse every month with only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse being reported.
Elder abuse is a violation of human rights and comes in many different forms including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and financial. Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse in Canada and usually starts after a health crisis, or a death in the family. A study by the World Health Organization estimated that roughly 1%-9.2% of the population is a victim of financial abuse.
What is financial abuse?
The Government of Canada defines financial abuse as “the illegal or unauthorized use of someone else’s money or property. It includes pressuring someone for money or property.” They also go on to say: “Your money and property belong to you. They are not your family’s or anyone else’s.”
Anyone can be a victim of elder abuse, and it can come from someone with whom you have a close connection – your spouse, son or daughter, relative, friend, neighbour or caregiver.
What are some resources to help if I am a victim of Elder Abuse?
If you think you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse, here’s a list of who you can contact:
- Your credit union or bank;
- Your local seniors’ centre;
- Your doctor;
- The local police.
Elder abuse is becoming increasingly more common among older individuals and similarly to the Government Fraud Awareness Campaign, it is everyone’s duty to recognize it, report it and stop it. Below is a list of resources available – please do not hesitate to call if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse.
- VictimLINK – Help line for victims of family violence offering services in over 110 languages, including 16 North American Aboriginal languages.
- Seniors health care support line – allows seniors and their families, or other concerned individuals in their lives, to report concerns about their care.
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST
- Seniors abuse and information line – Operated by the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy Support, SAIL is a safe place for older adults to talk to someone confidentially about situations where they feel they, or someone they know, is being abused or mistreated and to seek advice and support.
Seven days a week (excluding holidays), 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. P.S.T
- Information on elder abuse prevention
- Public guardian and trustee of BC – Services to adults who need help in decision making (legal rights, financial interests, and personal care interests). Contact Service BC to be transferred the PGT offices.
Vancouver: 604-660-2421; Victoria: 250-387-6121;
or other areas of BC: 1-800-663-7867.
Tips and safeguards
- Protect your financial information – do not give out your PIN/PAC to anyone and remember to keep your personal information in a safe place.
- Prepare for the future – consider having an enduring or continuing power of attorney prepared, appointing someone you trust to look after you and your finances.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Keep a record of the money you give out and mark down if it is a loan or a gift.
- Seek your own legal advice before signing legal documents.
- Be cautious about joint accounts – it may be your money, but a joint account gives someone else full access to it and they don’t have to ask your permission before taking it all.
- Keep in touch with friends and family – individuals who are isolated are easier targets for elder abuse.
Remember that Integris staff are here for any questions you may have regarding elder abuse. Please do not hesitate to contact your local credit union for questions, advice or concerns.
|Written by Cori Ramsay, BA – Communications Officer|