How to recognize and report signs of abuse

Did you know that in Canada, it is estimated that between 4% and 10% of people over 65 live in situations of abuse and neglect? According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is: "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". It 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. Older adults who live in rural or remote communities have been identified as potentially more vulnerable to abuse due to geographic and social isolation, as well as difficulty accessing legal and support services.

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 a caregiver for an older adult, our resources are an important first step to educating yourself about what constitutes abuse and what to do if you suspect you or someone you love is a victim of it. Read through them to learn more and share with others who may also benefit from them.

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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