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Elder Abuse

June 12, 2012

Elder with CaregiverSome 40% of Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) members say they know of a case of elder abuse. The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) looked at this issue in its publication Elder Abuse, It’s Everybody’s.

Some 4.6 million Canadians are over the age of 65. In 10 years, that number will climb to 7.9 million. Seniors are often thought of as:

  • Frail
  • Forgetful
  • Dependent
How does that statistic affect you? Read on...
 

Elder financial abuse

Elder financial abuse occurs when an older person’s money is used against his/her wishes or without consent including:
  • Withdrawing money from an elderly person’s account without permission
  • Forging cheques
  • Forcing sale of properties
  • Removing valuables from the home of the elderly without permission
Victims don’t report it because:
  • They think their complaint won’t be taken seriously
  • Their abuser is a loved one
  • They are ashamed
A recent CARP poll shows that 27% of elder financial abuse comes from demands and non-repayment of money by family members. According to Susan Eng, VP Advocacy, CARP, financial and physical abuse can often be tied together.
 
Abusers often don’t believe they’re committing a crime because they feel the money will be left to them after the person dies.
 
Bad economic times heighten the problem, according to Laura Watts, lawyer and Principal of Elder Concepts, a private consultancy organization specializing in seniors’ issues. She says there are ways to identify and prevent elder financial abuse by:
  • Knowing your client/member
  • Having a solid understanding of a client’s/member’s behaviour
  • Having an understanding of the dynamics of elder financial abuse

Elderly ManElderly ManCanada Seniors and the Canadian Centre for Elder Law have extensive information on elder abuse.

 
Awareness on the topic of elder abuse has gone from 7% in 2009 to 91% in 2011. Despite increased awareness, the enforcement and legal fields have made little progress in combating the issue. Enforcement falls within existing legal constraints without regard to demographics.
 
Hesitancy by victims, not wanting to prosecute those they trusted, compounds the problem.
 
The Government of Canada has funded a $13 million Federal Elder Abuse Initiative to help seniors and the general public recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. Elder Abuse: It’s Time to Face the Reality is a multimedia advertising campaign that that ran in 2009 and 2011.


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