Generally speaking, elder abuse is any act that harms or threatens to harm someone who is 65 or older. Elder abuse can include physical, financial, emotional and sexual assault as well as neglect in the care of a senior. The results of a recent study on elder abuse are staggering:
- In 2015, more than 750,000 Canadian seniors were the victims of some form of abuse;
- Psychological abuse is the type most often committed with financial abuse as the second highest form of abuse;
- 37% of financial abuse against seniors is perpetrated by a child or grandchild with only 10% committed by a stranger;
- In most kinds of elder abuse, the perpetrator is more often a spouse, child or grandchild.
Given our aging demographics, it is expected that elder abuse will increase over the next few decades.
Is elder abuse a crime?
You cannot be charged with the crime of ‘elder abuse’ in Canada as no such crime currently exists in the Criminal Code. However, many of acts that make up elder abuse are serious crimes under the Criminal Code. These include theft, assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and breach of duty to provide necessities.
What to do if you suspect elder abuse?
If you suspect a senior is being abused, take the necessary steps to ensure the matter is investigated by the appropriate authorities.
Call the Police.
The Ottawa Police Service has an Elder Abuse section which investigates all allegations of elder abuse. More information can be found on their website. They also have a non-emergency elder abuse information line (613.236.1222 ext. 2400).
Call the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
The mandate of the Guardianship Investigation Service of the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) is to protect mentally incapable adults who are suffering, or at risk of suffering, serious harm. They have the authority to investigate the matter and intervene where necessary. Someone concerned about an individual who may be mentally incapable and at risk of harm can contact the OPGT. The Guardianship Investigation Service can be reached at 1-800-366-0335.
Call the Seniors Safety Line (SSL).
The SSL offers referral information to local agencies and service providers as well as having trained counsellors available to provide support and safety planning. This service is free and confidential. They can be reached 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at 1-866-299-1011.
Call the Long-Term Care ACTION Line.
If the situation involves and is related to someone living in long-term care or receiving home care services, the Long-Term Care ACTION Line can be contacted at 1-866-0144. Callers have the option of speaking to an Independent Complaints Facilitator to discuss their concerns.
Reproduction of this blog is permitted if the author is credited. If you have questions or if you would like more information, please call us at 613 836-9915. This blog is not intended to be legal advice but contains general information. Please consult a lawyer or other professional to determine how the information in this blog might apply to you.