It’s been called the form of abuse that few see. For something that is unseen to a great degree, elder abuse certainly affects a huge number of people in our community. Experts say that elder abuse could be found in the lives of up to 10 per cent of older adults in our community. That could be close to 1,000 Kawartha Lakes residents. If that isn’t alarming enough, the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse says that only one in 12 cases gets reported. Unseen, yet definitely not insignificant.
Each year, June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Locally, the Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Elder Abuse Prevention Network works diligently year-round to create awareness and provide support to individuals and their families who are victims of elder abuse.
The Network is a local collective of professionals and service organizations with a goal to promote its prevention through education and awareness, and to assist the public in identifying signs and symptoms of abuse.
The network plans community projects and educational events for seniors, caregivers and staff, as well as responding to elder abuse situations. The coordinator of the Network is Community Care’s Janice Craig. She is available through the organization to meet with individuals and families who are concerned about being taken advantage of through violence, coercion, intimidation, emotional pressure, financial control, neglect and much more. Each situation can be unique, and is treated with confidentiality, professionalism and care.
There are many ways to get involved in creating a strong society that safeguards our residents. Building public awareness and encouraging grassroots involvement are two of the Network’s goals, as well as providing enhanced services for older people who experience abuse, improving system responses, and offering research and information opportunities for the public to learn more about the problem.
Community Care provides several sources of information, including a link to SeniorLiving.org’s “Guide for Preventing Elder Abuse, Assault & Theft” here. The guide addresses the different types of abuse, how to prevent them, and how to avoid becoming an elderly victim of theft.
While it’s extremely important to offer support to those who have been victims, the education of the public about the problem will hopefully, in time, lead to reduced number of incidents. If you suspect any case of elder abuse but are unsure of what to do, contact Janice Craig at Community Care at 705-324-7323 ext 578.