No Good Reason for Elder Abuse

The observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 creates a moment to reflect on the reasons for elder abuse. Abuse can be verbal or physical, and neglect can take the forms of leaving elderly people in  isolated or endangered situations.

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial/Ministers Responsible for Seniors in Canada considers the situation to be complex, but unacceptable in any form, even when not against the law.

Elder abuse situations involve spouses, adult children or grandchildren, or other relatives. Family caregivers and paid caregivers may be responsible. Abuse and neglect may reflect ageism, reflect a cycle of family violence, or be acts of opportunistic behaviour.

Abuse and neglect may also demonstrate a deficit of understanding and knowledge about older adults and aging. Ageist ideas may exist that older adults are not deserving of respect, creating stereotypes and misconceptions about aging and older people.

Violence and control in relationships with other elders lead inevitably to abuse and neglect. Negative beliefs about the elderly results in a loss of respect. The false belief of entitlement to older adults' property is a trait of elder abuse, even if the perpetrators feel that they are helping older adults, or because of their positions in the family.

Personal problems or stresses increase the probability of harming or neglecting others. Feelings of being overwhelmed without positive ways of relating are key character traits of abusers. Limited finances often bring about family tensions leading to abuse or neglect.

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial/Ministers Responsible for Seniors in Canada concluded: "It does not matter who the abuser is, or why the person is abusing an older adult. No one deserves to be abused or mistreated."