EDITORIAL: Look out for the elders in your community

Do what you can’t to make sure our seniors aren’t being abused

Our elders built this country, they are the foundation of our community, and we reap the benefits of their hard work.

Yet not only are elders often overlooked, they face troubling levels of abuse from physical to financial to emotional.

And now, amid a global pandemic, seniors are bearing the brunt of the illness, made worse by further abuse. Outbreaks at retirement homes have been particularly devastating, and the consequences of public health official advice to stay home and employ physical distancing mean many seniors are left more alone than ever.

Even worse, B.C.’s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie says the pandemic forcing many to remain isolated is increasing their likelihood of experience elder abuse.

“Recognizing the signs of elder abuse and knowing who to report it to is key.”

The provincial government recently announced $1.89 million in grants, $550,000 of which is going to Seniors First BC to try to help with the problem of elder abuse.

“We are using this funding to educate and protect seniors from malicious COVID-19 related frauds and scams that try to trick seniors into giving out their personal information online or over the phone,” executive director Rick Gambrel said. “We also run a seniors abuse and information line known as SAIL, a victim services program and referrals to an in-house lawyer.”

Elder abuse, including neglect, is defined as a single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action, that causes harm or distress to an older person.

It can take place in a senior’s home, a care facility or in the community, and often involves a person in a position of trust or a situation of dependency. The abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, spiritual or neglectful.

According to statistics from Seniors First BC, approximately eight percent of seniors in B.C. experience some form of abuse, but this number may be even higher.

Pay attention to the elderly people in your lives and do your best to ensure elder abuse is not impacting them.

It’s the least we can do.

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