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Elderly Women sitting by the window


Understanding Elder Abuse

As our elder population continues to grow, so does the alarming issue of elder abuse. Contrary to common belief, elder abuse encompasses more than just physical violence against seniors; it is a multi-faceted and complex problem that demands attention and awareness.

The Silent Epidemic: Underreporting

It is estimated that up to 86% of elder abuse cases go unreported. Many seniors silently endure abuse, suffering in silence without seeking help. This silence is often perpetuated by the fact that over 80% of elder abuse is committed by family members, individuals whom seniors inherently love and trust. This familial connection makes it difficult for victims to come forward and expose the abuse.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical Abuse:

  • Acts such as slapping, pushing, or pulling, causing harm that seniors may be unable to avoid or defend against.
  • Neglect: Failing to meet the basic needs of an older person who may be incapable of meeting those needs independently.

Financial Abuse:

  • Any act conducted without consent that results in personal or financial gain for one person at the expense of another.
  • Misuse of power of attorney, withholding money, theft, unauthorized use of personal property, coercing the sale of property, forging signatures, and withholding financial information are all forms of financial abuse.

Emotional Abuse:

  • Verbal abuse, isolation, and intentional ignoring are all part of emotional abuse.
  • Denying seniors their basic human rights or autonomy over decisions about their own lives.

Sexual Abuse:

  • Involves unwanted sexual activities imposed on an older adult.

Protection and Awareness

These various forms of elder abuse underscore the urgent need for protection and awareness. Seniors deserve to live free from abuse, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure their safety. By understanding the nuances of elder abuse, we can work towards creating a society that actively safeguards its elderly population.

If you are experiencing any of these violations or know someone who is contact:

Region of Durham, Advisor-Seniors’ Safety: 905-668-7711 ext. 2460

Durham Regional Police, Seniors Support Co-ordinator: 905-579-1520 ext. 1865

Seniors CRIMESTOPPERS: 1-800-222-8477

Bethesda House: 1-800-338-3397


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Bethesda House welcomes and encourages applications from, and provides equal student opportunities to, male and female students, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. Accommodation will be provided for students with disabilities upon request and if at all possible. Bethesda House is an LGBTQ positive space.