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Canada is experiencing an unprecedented demographic change. It has been estimated that by 2041, one-fourth of Canada’s population will be over the age of 65. At the same time, many Canadians are living and working longer and longer. As the “baby boomer” generation moves into its senior years, elder law issues associated with this changing landscape are increasingly coming to the forefront.
Elder abuse occurs when a person in a position of trust or authority harms a senior. A person of trust can include a family member, neighbour, nurse, doctor, landlord, caregiver and so on.
The World Health Organization defines abuse of older adults as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person”.
Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is someone age 60 or older. The abuse often occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts.
Common types of elder abuse include:
General criminal action against older people does not typically constitute elder abuse. For instance, a person mugging an elder or breaking into the home of an older person is generally treated and prosecuted as the appropriate criminal activity, not as elder abuse. Other crimes like financial exploitation are likely to be treated as embezzlement, fraud, stealing, or other money-related crimes.
Elder abuse instead is focused on crimes that specifically take advantage of the elderly person, based on his or her age, incumbent social or private benefits, or incapacity or inability to respond, whether physically or mentally, to the abusive action.
If a senior is being abused, there are a number of places they can go for help. First, they can call the police. In many municipal police services throughout the province, there are police officers assigned to deal specifically with elder abuse.Seniors can also seek help from a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), seniors community groups, elder abuse action committees, or local legal clinics. Visit CCAC to find a listing of Community Care Access Centres.
Seniors Safety Line (SSL)
The SSL provides contact and referral information for local agencies across the province that can assist in cases of elder abuse. Trained counsellors also provide safety planning and supportive counseling for older adults who are being abused or at-risk of abuse. Family members and service providers can also call for information about community services.
If you are concerned about a loved one, or suspect that they may be the target of abuse, neglect and/or fraud we can help. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate lawyers can assist you in ensuring that your loved one is protected. We have decades of experience handling successful claims against nursing homes and personal care workers for their negligent actions. Our lawyers understand the needs of elderly clients and can support your family as you focus on recovery.
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