Abuse and neglect in older adults: Do you know the signs?

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Day, an important day to raise awareness and educate individuals about the many forms of abuse and neglect that older adults may experience. As the population ages and the number of older adults increases, the amount of elder abuse is expected to rise too. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. Unfortunately, many abuse cases are not reported and as a result, tend to get worse over time. Abuse can happen in care facilities, where residents can be particularly vulnerable due to their loss of independence, diminished physical and cognitive capacities, and proximity to many ‘strangers’ (including other residents, employees and visitors). It is also possible that abuse can take place within the home by other family members or relatives.

In order to prevent abuse from happening, it is important that older adults recognize signs of abuse and understand how to report it. Caregivers should also educate themselves on how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect, so they can help stop it from happening too. 

Whether you are an older adult or caregiver, resources exist to help you deal with abuse. The first step in dealing with it is to understand how to recognize that it is happening. We have compiled the latest resources to help you. If you or someone you know is being abused, do not hesitate to seek help from a health professional or social worker.

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DISCLAIMER: Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of these blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with current social distancing recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website

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