What most people refer to as the golden years are wrought with abuse and hardship for far too many seniors.
According to the BC Ministry of Health, as many as one in 10 seniors in B.C. will be subjected to some form of abuse in their later years, and one in 12 will experience financial abuse at the hands of close family members or trusted friends.
Those sad statistics – and the fact that much of the abuse is not reported – underscore why the Westshore Community Response Network (CRN) is urging everyone to assist the vulnerable by participating in World Elder Abuse Month in June.
The CRN serves Highlands, View Royal, Metchosin, Colwood and Langford and offers workshops to help people recognize signs of abuse and identify those who can take action.
CRN co-ordinator Gabi Townsend said in June her group plans to highlight the need to live in safety and dignity.
“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 is a key opportunity to raise awareness of senior abuse and neglect, and to encourages all of us to watch out and listen, and learn how to respond,” she said in a release.
Sherry Baker, executive director of the BC Association of Community Response Networks, said everyone has a role to play in creating safe, supportive communities that all people want to live and grow old in. Unfortunately, older adults still find themselves in vulnerable situations where they can experience various forms of abuse and neglect.
The association shared the story of Shirley to illustrate the extent of the issue.
The staff at a coffee shop Shirley went to every day noticed her appearance changing over a period of a couple of weeks. She was becoming unkempt and appeared to be cold, dirty and hungry. When the staff approached to see if they could help her, Shirley said her son had taken over her house and she was now living in the basement without proper cooking or bathing facilities. Fortunately, the staff had learned what to do at a CRN workshop and were able to help the woman get the help she needed.
For more information about programs, visit bccrns.ca and under Find a CRN, type in Westshore.