Learn more about understanding and planning for future expenses and staying informed about available income sources as you age.
To successfully plan ahead, you need to start thinking about how you want to live as you age and what steps you need to take to achieve that lifestyle.
This article is part of a series on Plan for Aging in the Place you Love…
Even though people of all ages experience fraud and abuse (including financial abuse), older adults may be particularly vulnerable.
There are many good sources of information available to help seniors learn to protect themselves from fraud and abuse.
Ask at your local library or seniors’ centre, or check online for further information.
- Do I feel safe in my home and in my neighbourhood?
- Do I know how to protect myself against fraud and abuse, including financial abuse?
- Do I know what to do if I suspect abuse or if I am feeling abused?
Find other articles about Aging in Place click HERE
You can find more information and resources about Aging in Place at Canada.ca/Seniors
Teunis Schouten, Owner at B Cared For Services
How You Can Recognize Abuse Abuse happens in different ways, and usually becomes worse if there is no help of some kind. Older adults often experience more than one form of abuse. All abuse is serious and causes harm.
1. Financial Abuse
My granddaughter moved in with me some time ago. I asked her to leave because she used my bank card to take money from my account a couple of times. She said she has no place to go. I feel guilty and let her stay, but I am afraid she will do it again. My younger sister lives with me since her husband died. I have worked hard and saved money for many years. She has threatened to end our relationship if I don’t write a new will that leaves all of my savings to her.
Last week, my son-in-law asked me to sign a power of attorney so that he could help with my affairs. He disagrees with the way I manage my money, and I have heard him tell my daughter that he thinks I am getting senile. I am a little afraid of him.
It is financial abuse if somebody tricks, threatens, or persuades older adults out of their money, property or possessions. Sometimes the abuser might influence or force the abused to change their will, sign a power of attorney, or the abuser might cash cheques without their knowledge.
2. Psychological Abuse
I don’t have a big family and have outlived most of my friends. My niece is the only family member I see regularly. She says I’m lazy and should be thankful
that she takes time to visit me. My husband controls my every move. He tells me I am “too stupid” to make decisions or handle money. He won’t let me see my friends anymore. My wife laughs at me in front of people because I can’t manage zippers and buttons without her help. She tells people that I am “worse than a child” and that she would never let herself be so helpless.
It is psychological abuse if somebody threatens, insults, intimidates or humiliates an older adult, treats the person like a child, or does not allow them to see their family and friends.
3. Spiritual or Religious Abuse
My daughter-in-law tells me that my spiritual tradition is “ridiculous” and she has convinced my son not to let my grandchildren come to ceremony with me any longer. My children are angry that I have made some large donations to a religious organization I support. I have overheard them say that they should “do something” to keep me away from the “religious fanatics.” These people are not fanatics—they are my friends.
My brother doesn’t want me to go to church anymore. I am afraid to disobey him, but the fellowship and my faith are important to me.
It is spiritual or religious abuse when someone limits or restricts the spiritual practices, customs or traditions of an older adult. Abuse also includes using an older adult’s beliefs to exploit the person, attacking the person’s beliefs, or not allowing the person to participate in religious events and activities.
4. Sexual Abuse
My husband has always been very controlling. He has never hit me, but lately he pressures me for sex. He won’t let me sleep until I give in. My neighbour is a widower who brings my groceries because we both live so far out of town. Since my husband died he has started hugging and touching me even though I ask him not to. He calls it his “delivery fee.”
My nephew and his girlfriend live with me. They have sex anywhere they please and don’t close the door even when I am home. I have asked them repeatedly to be more private, but they laugh at me and call me a prude.
It is sexual abuse if somebody forces an older adult to engage in sexual activity. This may include verbal or suggestive behaviour, not respecting personal privacy, and sexual intercourse.
My son suffered a brain injury when he was young and he has lived with me his whole life. He does help more now that I am no longer able to get around very well, but my daughter expects him to do everything and he just can’t. She lives nearby but is very busy. I haven’t been able to get out for groceries for over a week this time. My friend and I have lived together for ten years. My knees are bad and I haven’t been able to share the chores of the house recently. She is angry about this and refuses to clean my part of the house or prepare food for me. She hasn’t spoken to me in three weeks. I don’t speak English very well and have no one else to talk to.
I live in the basement of my brother’s house. He is very successful and travels a lot. When he goes away he locks me in. He says he is afraid that I will wander off. Even though he leaves food and things to read, I get very depressed if he is gone for more than a couple of days.
Neglect occurs when someone withholds care, food and/or emotional support that an older adult is unable to provide for himself or herself. Sometimes people providing are do not have the necessary knowledge, experience or ability.
6. Physical Abuse
My husband pulls my hair when he is angry and yells that I don’t listen to him. He has always yelled at me, but he never used to hurt me. I am not as independent as I used to be. I need help with certain tasks. My daughter helps me, but I am ashamed to admit that sometimes she shakes me and even hits me. My younger brother and I live together. He has always had a temper. Recently when he was drinking, he pushed me against the wall a couple of times.
It is physical abuse if somebody hits an older adult or handles the person roughly, even if there is no injury.
This information is provided through a public education campaign, provided by the Canadian Government through a ‘Neighborhood, Friends and Families‘ website.
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, why is this day here?
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is one of many excellent opportunities to share information on the links and many facets of abuse and neglect in later life, as a family violence problem, an intergenerational concern, as well as a health, justice, and human rights issue. It is an opportunity to join together and recognize the many local and regional efforts to address the problem. These efforts are often overlooked. It is also a chance to speak with one voice on this important matter.
What are Canadians Doing?
This special day is a time to share information, learn more, discuss the issue of abuse of older adults, and become involved. Canada has been recognized internationally as a leader in raising public awareness of abuse of older adults and in developing innovative and respectful approaches to dealing with the issue. BC Community Response Network (BCCRN) has developed several factsheets in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Many Canadians are using June 15th as an opportunity to recognize local and regional efforts that are being made to raise awareness of abuse of older adults.
Across the country, individuals, organizations, communities, and governments are:
- holding cultural, educational, art and social activities to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day,
- developing municipal, provincial, and territorial proclamations to raise awareness,
- launching awareness tools such as posters and calendars,
- publicizing the day with multimedia information campaigns,
- organizing volunteer and educational programs, including information fairs, plays, workshops and conferences to help promote change, and
- developing multigenerational initiatives to help children and youth learn more about aging, ageism, and abuse.
In Canada, many people are working throughout the year to increase public awareness about abuse and neglect of older adults.
Want to Learn More?
For more information on Canadian and international activities in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, visit the websites:
- SeniorsBC Website
- BC Association of Community Response Networks
- International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
This article is based on various articles posted on the links above.