Working together to stop elder abuse
July 19, 2022 Media inquiries
Alberta’s government is taking action on elder abuse by releasing a new prevention strategy to make our province safer for seniors.
A Collective Approach: Alberta’s strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse is Alberta’s five-year strategy that will guide how Albertans, non-profit organizations, front-line workers, businesses and governments will work together to prevent and reduce elder abuse. It also includes an updated definition of elder abuse that will provide clarity to community partners and promote standard data collection and information sharing regarding incidents of elder abuse.
“Our seniors deserve to be cherished and respected members of the community. Sadly, this is not always the case. All Albertans need to work together to stop elder abuse. Our new provincial strategy will help all of us recognize the signs of abuse and understand what action we can take to stop and report it. I encourage all Albertans to read the strategy and shine a light on this sensitive and vital issue.”
Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing
“The Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council is pleased to have a new strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse and we are grateful for the Government of Alberta’s attention and commitment to this important topic. The strategy reflects Alberta’s growing senior population and the role that everyone has in preventing and addressing elder abuse.”
Shantel Ottenbreit, chair, Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council
Joining Minister Pon for the launch of the strategy were Shantel Ottenbreit, chair, Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council, Areni Kelleppan, executive director, Stop Abuse in Families Society and Michele Markham, manager, Seniors Safe House, SAGE Seniors Association
The strategy identifies opportunities to collaborate with partners, such as community organizations, front-line workers, law enforcement and the federal government. The strategy has five goals:
- Improved awareness about what elder abuse is and how to prevent, identify and address it.
- Training for skilled service providers, including customized training for Indigenous communities, health professionals and housing providers.
- Coordinated community responses where communities and partners coordinate effectively to address elder abuse.
- Protective laws and policies to protect seniors and uphold their rights.
- Enhanced data, information sharing, research and evaluation to support strong policy and program responses, including awareness, prevention, early intervention and monitoring.
“We appreciate Minister Pon and the Government of Alberta’s efforts to formally recognize the issue of elder abuse in Alberta with a strategy to work on prevention and response. The Stop Abuse in Families (SAiF) Society works in rural and small communities in the St. Albert and Sturgeon region and we’ve seen first-hand how the isolation and loss of critical supports during the pandemic has only exacerbated elder abuse for many seniors. Our society looks forward to working with Minister Pon and her team towards a future where seniors can live safely and free of abuse.”
Areni Kelleppan, executive director, Stop Abuse in Families (SAiF) Society
“Sage supports the Government of Alberta’s efforts through this strategy to increase awareness of elder abuse in Alberta and strengthen the community response to address situations of abuse.”
Karen McDonald, executive director, Sage Seniors Association
A Collective Approach: Alberta’s strategy for preventing and addressing elder abuse was developed with input from seniors, stakeholders and the public. It recognizes solutions to elder abuse are best created at the community level where organizations are familiar with the specific challenges that face local seniors.
The most recent provincial elder abuse prevention strategy is more than 10 years old. Alberta’s seniors population has doubled to more than 700,000 seniors since it was developed.
Elder abuse is now defined in the strategy as any intentional or reckless act or wilful and negligent disregard, occurring within a relationship of family, trust or dependency, directed at someone 65 years of age or older, that:
*causes physical harm
*causes emotional or psychological harm
*involves the misappropriation or misuse of money or other personal possessions or personal or real property
*subjects an individual to non-consensual sexual contact, activity or behaviour, or fails to provide the necessities of life
Prior to 2020, it was estimated that nearly one in 10 Alberta seniors may be a victim of elder abuse – the highest percentage in Canada.
Rates of family violence, including elder abuse, tend to increase during, and following, natural disasters, public health crises and economic downturns.