Support seniors suffering abuse in Revelstoke: today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Revelstoke has a vibrant seniors community but major life events, such as the death of a spouse or injury, can make senior citizens more vulnerable to elder abuse or neglect.

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Photo: Contributed by Revelstoke Women's Shelter Society

By Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society

For the older community in Revelstoke, keeping an eye on each other and lending support in times of need is important for reducing elder abuse. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on June 15, is a reminder for the community to be aware of possible cases.

Elder abuse is when older people are taken advantage of by trusted individuals such as their family members, friends or even service providers. It presents in the form of emotional, financial, physical and/or sexual abuse or neglect.

“The upsetting and wrongdoing of elder abuse often occurs in quiet, private settings, making public response, awareness and education that much more important,” Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society executive director Allie Bruni said.

The society hosts Revelstoke’s local Community Response Network (CRN), a community agency that is focused on education and awareness about adult abuse issues.

Stephanie Melnyk, a member of the CRN committee, said in some cases adult children abuse their aging parents — although they may not realise it.

“It might be the adult child being overprotective and recognising that their parent is losing some capability,” she said, “but they’re overstepping boundaries.”

Abusers may feel a sense of entitlement to a senior’s wealth or they may be unemployed, chemically dependent, mentally ill, or under financial pressure. The abuser uses their power over the victim to intimidate, isolate and control the victim. Declining health of the victim or abuser often makes the abuse worse.

Older people often do not report abuse as they feel embarrassed or do not want to lose companionship, stop a service or deal with the consequences of saying no to family.

Revelstoke has a vibrant seniors scene through the Revelstoke Senior Centre and this community provides support for its peers.

“If someone is struggling, they don’t have the strength, motivation or skills necessary to pick themselves up and go find the help they need,” Melnyk said. “That’s where a strong community is a benefit.”

Like many forms of abuse, it’s often up to the person to realise that they need help and the best approach is to show support without pressure. Reporting elder abuse is an option but in some cases, Melnyk recommends a more upfront approach.

“Talk directly to the person you’re concerned about,” she said. “Most people react really well if you approach them in a non-confrontational way and say ‘I’m really worried about you, I saw,’ That way that person is engaged in their own support system.”

To report incidences of elder abuse call 1-844-870-4754 or email ihadultguardianship@interiorhealth.ca. For senior support or information, call SAIL (Seniors Abuse & Information Line) 1-866-437-1940 between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Indicators of abuse and neglect in elders:

  • Anxiety, depression or passiveness in relation to a family member, friend or care provider
  • Confusion about new legal documents such as a new will or a new mortgage
  • Sudden drop in cash flow
  • Reluctance to speak about a situation

Indicators of abusers:

  • Sharing an older person’s home without paying a fair share of the expenses when requested
  • Misusing or stealing a senior’s property or money
  • Forging an elderly person’s signature
  • Pressuring seniors to sign legal documents that they do not fully understand

About Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society:

RWSS is a modern and comfortable transition house in Revelstoke, staffed 24 hours. It provides a safe space and supportive environment for vulnerable women and children fleeing abuse. The society also provides an outreach activities-based program called Moving Forward, which helps support women in the community. Business line: 250-837-4382 or Crisis Line: 250-837-1111.

 

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