Current Issue: April 5, 2013 Next Issue: September 2013
Seniors’ advocates are urging the federal government to create a more effective national strategy to improve seniors’ lives and prevent elder abuse.
CARP vice-president Susan Eng says victim services and prevention initiatives are not readily available across Canada to address elder abuse.
The issue has gained importance after the federal government proposed legislation to amend the Criminal Code to impose tougher penalties for those involved in the abuse of seniors.
Nearly 8,000 seniors were reported victims of violent crimes involving elder abuse in 2009. These acts included direct mistreatment and violence by family and friends, or neglect to seniors by caregivers at retirement homes.
Demand for home care across the country
CARP suggests a need for a national hotline with the capacity to re-direct seniors reporting abuse to local service agencies. Another recommendation in addressing elder abuse is for federal funding to go towards creating shelters for the elderly across the country.
Not all of CARP’s recommendations are supported by the other seniors’ rights activists, but there seems to be a consensus about the need to strengthen seniors’ home care.
Seniors’ most frequent abusers are their friends and families
She said the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code “sounds good but it has no substance” wihtout adding mandatory home care.
A multi-level and complicated issue
Most elder abuse remains under-reported and many studies suggest that seniors’ most frequent abusers are their friends and families. It is also noted that the most frequent abuse is financial exploitation.
By investing in programs and education to recognize signs of elder abuse, we can prevent many cases before they reach a criminal act and decrease associated costs in the future.
Opposition critics on seniors’ affairs have also called on the government to initiate new policies that would help prevent elder’s abuse through raising their living standards.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Karen Rodgers / Flickr.
What is elder abuse?
The federal government is involved in activities to prevent elder abuse through the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance, the RCMP, and Seniors Canada.
The Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program supports both pan-Canadian and community-based projects that focus on prevention and raising awareness of elder abuse. The program has a $45-million annual budget.
Source: Seniors Canada, Justice Department of Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.