JUNE 15TH IS THE UNITED NATIONS’ WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY, ACKNOWLEDGING THE GLOBAL SCOPE OF THIS SOCIAL ISSUE AND ITS EFFECT ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
Montreal (June 11th, 2020) - The Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (known by its French acronym, CREGÉS) has a long-standing expertise in developing practices, training and policies to support older adults in mistreatment situations and professionals who assist them. The potential for older adult mistreatment is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought about greater social isolation for seniors who are confined.
“Isolation is one of the defining risk factors for older adult mistreatment, when combined with other risk factors such as poor health, cognitive impairment or financial dependency, the risk of being mistreated becomes greater,” Sarita Israel, a social worker at CLSC René-Cassin and coordinator of the CREGÉS Domain of Expertise on Countering Mistreatment of Older Adults. “When people are isolated, they are interacting with fewer people who might be able to detect a problem, intervene, or report on it. If the older person lives with the person that mistreats them, without the possibility of outside support and respite, the dependency is amplified and the older person is less likely to reach out for help. This is also true if they are living alone and can only depend on the person that mistreats them to provide for their basic needs. Thus, it is important to reach out to older adults now being forced to self-isolate.”
One of the most effective resources developed at CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, in collaboration with clinicians and researchers, in the context of a governmental mandate from the Secrétariat des aînés of the Ministry of Health and Social Services is the Elder Mistreatment Helpline, a free, bilingual, and confidential service accessible to anyone across the province. Available seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
(1-888-489-2287), the helpline is answered by social workers who offer guidance to anyone who is living or is concerned by a situation of older adult mistreatment.
It is estimated that between 4 % and 7% of older adults suffer from mistreatment. There are roughly 1.5 million people over the age of sixty-five in Quebec and this gives an indication of the scope of the problem. The territory covered by the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal includes one of the highest concentrations of seniors in all of Canada, making this an issue of particular significance to its social services and health care providers.
“Since older adult mistreatment is frequently hidden, we believe that the extent of the problem is actually worse than the statistics suggest,” said Ms. Israel. “It’s easy for someone to spot a person with a black eye. But more subtle or less extreme forms of mistreatment such as psychological neglect, which can cause, for example, anxiety or depression, or financial mismanagement, are more challenging to identify.”
One of the governmental mandates given to the CIUSSS West Central Montreal and coordinated by the CREGÉS is to develop training modules for social and health care professionals,
community workers and professionals from the financial sector to increase their awareness of the problem and knowledge about resources that can provide help and support. “From awareness come’s the capacity to detect and to take action” said Ms. Israel.
“It isn’t age alone that defines a person’s vulnerability,” Ms. Israel emphasizes, “it’s their health, the quality of their relationships and their capacity to seek help. Recognizing those who may be in situations of vulnerability is crucial for prevention and, if needed, protection.”
Experts at CREGÉS have developed a model for the management of mistreatment situations. For more information on the subject, please visit www.creges.ca.
On June 15th at 12 p.m. Sarita Israel will participate in the free interactive webinar ‘’An Escape Room on Older Adult Mistreatment’’. Joined by 3 other experts, she will present a novel tool to increase awareness about mistreatment. This webinar is presented as part of World Elder Abuse Day. https://www.creges.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/An-Escape-Room-on-Older-Adult-Mistreatment.pdf
More information about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day can be found at:
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