Name-calling. Pushing. Taking a few
dollars. Withholding medication.
Denying freedom and privacy. Elder
abuse can take many forms, including
emotional, psychological, financial,
physical, sexual, neglect and violation
of rights. It can affect any senior, of any
background, health or cultural heritage.
Elder abuse is a serious public health
issue. And yet, for many, “elder abuse
is often seen as a family secret,” says
Luanne Whitmarsh, the chief executive
You deserve to be safe
Talking about elder abuse
WRITTEN BY COLLEEN SETO
officer of Calgary’s Kerby Centre, a
not-for-profit organization committed to
helping older adults.
While more people are reporting it,
“elder abuse is still coming out of the
shadows in the same kind of way that
people used to treat violence against
women,” Whitmarsh says. “It took
forever for people to feel comfortable to
say something. Now people realize it’s
OK to talk about it, to report it and also
More help is becoming available. In
fact, the Kerby Centre houses the first
purpose-built shelter in North America
for people in need of refuge from elder
abuse. (See the sidebar Getting Help).
People need to know how they can
prevent and identify elder abuse.
It can be especially tricky to recognize
because “typically, elder abuse is
hidden by the person who is being
abused,” says Dr. James Silvius, AHS’
Help is available for people who experience elder abuse and those who observe or suspect it.