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Seniors in Crisis

What is Senior Abuse?

Senior abuse can be defined as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.

In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem.

Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally. Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries - ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands a global multifaceted response, one which focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.

Resource: World Health Organization

What are the Warning Signs?

The key to prevention and intervention of elder abuse is the ability to recognize the warning signs of its occurrence. Signs of elder abuse differ depending on the type of abuse the victim is suffering. Each type of abuse has distinct signs associated with it.

  • Physical abuse can be detected by visible signs on the body, including bruises, scars, sprains, or broken bones. More subtle indications of physical abuse include signs of restraint, such as rope marks on the wrist, or broken eyeglasses.[1]
  • Emotional abuse often accompanies the other types of abuse and can usually be detected by changes in the personality or behavior. The elder may also exhibit behavior mimicking dementia, such as rocking or mumbling.[1]
  • Financial exploitation is a more subtle form of abuse, in comparison to other types, and may be more challenging to notice. Signs of financial exploitation include significant withdrawals from accounts, belongings or money missing from the home, unpaid bills, and unnecessary goods or services.[1]
  • Sexual abuse, like physical abuse, can be detected by visible signs on the body, especially around the breasts or genital area. Other signs include inexplicable infections, bleeding, and torn underclothing.[1]
  • Neglect is a type of abuse in that it can be inflicted either by the caregiver or oneself. Signs of neglect include malnutrition and dehydration, poor hygiene, noncompliance to a prescription medication, and unsafe living conditions.[1]

[1]Robinson, Lawrence; Tina De Benedictis; Jeanne Segal (November 2012). "Elder abuse and neglect: Warning signs, risk factors, prevention, and help". Retrieved 16 December 2012

What can you do if you or someone you care about is being abused?

Mobile Crisis Services has partnered with the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism, Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service and Prince Albert Mobile Crisis.   The three Mobile Crisis Intervention outreach services provide a short term response that provides assistance with:

  • Stabilizing age-related mental health and addiction crisis; 
  • Risk /safety assessments; 
  • Referrals and linkages to community agencies;
  • Depression; 
  • Suicidal Thoughts;
  • Memory loss or wandering;
  • Self-neglect; 
  • Elder abuse concerns; 
  • Life adjustment problems;
  • Support for family and caregivers
  • Homelessness

Also see the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanisms brochure and factsheet on Seniors Abuse and Neglect;

Brochure  Seniors Abuse and Neglect pdf.

Factsheet Whats Seniors Abuse and Neglect? pdf.

If you have concerns call one of the Seniors Abuse and Neglect Response Lines

Regina 306 757 0127 Mobile Crisis Services, Inc.
Saskatoon 306 933 6200 Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service
Prince Albert 306 764 1011 Prince Albert Mobile Crisis Services