Area of Law: Seniors / Elder Law
Answer Number: 725
Elder abuseRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 725
Elder abuse occurs when a person in a position of trust or authority harms a senior. A person of trust can include a family member, neighbour, nurse, doctor, landlord, caregiver and so on.
Types of elder abuse
There are five common types of elder abuse:
- Physical abuse, including physical assault such as slapping or beating, or forced confinement;
- Sexual abuse, including sexual assault or any type of unwanted sexual activity;
- Financial abuse, including stealing, fraud or misusing a Power of Attorney;
- Neglect, including abandonment or withholding food or health services; and
- Emotional abuse, including humiliating or treating an older person like a child.
Certain types of elder abuse can be a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada, and as such, punishable under the Code. These may include: physical abuse, such as assault; sexual abuse; and neglect, including negligence causing bodily harm or the failure to provide the necessities of life.
Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse
There are various government departments and not-for-profit organizations which provide services to seniors. Elder Abuse Ontario is one of the charitable organizations, funded by the Government of Ontario, dedicated to the prevention of elder abuse and neglect of older adults. Their mission is to accomplish this through initiatives that include education, training, collaboration, service coordination and advocacy.
In addition to the individual efforts of various organizations, Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse is an initiative developed by the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. The Ministry partnered with the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat, Ministry of the Attorney General, and Elder Abuse Ontario to implement the Strategy. It’s three key priorities are:
- Coordination of community services;
- Training for front-line staff; and
- Public education to raise awareness.
In the program, Elder Abuse Regional Consultants across the province act as a key resource to justice and community service providers and local elder abuse networks to help promote and support efforts in addressing and preventing elder abuse. For more information about Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse, visit the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.
How to get help
If a senior is being abused, there are a number of places they can go for help. First, they can call the police. In many municipal police services throughout the province, there are police officers assigned to deal specifically with elder abuse.
Seniors can also seek help from a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), seniors community groups, elder abuse action committees, or local legal clinics. Visit CCAC to find a listing of Community Care Access Centres.
Also, the Ontario government provides a toll-free telephone support service, called the Senior Safety Line. This service provides information, referrals and support, 24 hours a day in over 150 languages. It is a confidential service and can be reached at 1-866-299-1011.
If anyone believes that a senior or any other adult is not mentally capable and is personally at risk of serious harm, or the senior’s money or property is at serious risk, that person may also report this to the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee. The Public Guardian and Trustee is required to investigate all reports, and in serious cases, to become the senior’s or the adult’s guardian to help or protect them. The Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) may also get help from the police or other services. Visit the OPGT for more information.
More information can also be found from the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. For legal help, contact a lawyer.
If you or someone you care about is a senior and are concerned about safety issues both at home and away from home, contact Philips Lifeline for personal emergency response products and services at 1-866-784-1992 . Philips many available products include the AutoAlert Fall Detection System for use when you fall at home and can’t call for help, and the GoSafe mobile medical alert response system that automatically calls for help if you fall outside your home. Both products will detect a fall automatically without you having to push a button.
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