Elder Abuse: The Issue

For too long, elder abuse has remained a largely hidden issue, with untold social and economic costs—and above all to seniors who are victims of abuse.

Elder abuse may take many forms: financial, physical, emotional or psychological, sexual, systemic (e.g. ageism), spiritual and neglect (either self-neglect by seniors or neglect by others).

Elder abuse is an issue that may affect seniors in all walks of life. However, some seniors may be at greater risk of experiencing some type of abuse: those who are older; female; isolated; dependent on others; cared for by someone with an addiction; seniors living in institutional settings; and those who are frail, who have a cognitive impairment or a physical disability.

It is difficult to estimate the prevalence and incidence of elder abuse in Canada due to factors such as under-reporting, confusion about what constitutes abuse, limitations in victimization surveys and police statistics, or a general lack of awareness about the issue. Nonetheless, based on available Canadian data, it is estimated that between 4 percent and 10 percent of older adults in Canada experience some type of abuse. In the current demographic context of a rapidly increasing seniors population, it is clearly an issue that requires attention.

(Excerpt: See Report of the National Seniors Council on Elder Abuse  , November 2007. Submitted to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, the Minister of Health, and the Secretary of State (Seniors)

The Report describes the information gathered in regional meetings by the National Council and makes suggestions for possible areas for action to the Ministers.


Resources

The Prevention of Elder Abuse Policy Lens is an analytical framework (adapted from the Seniors’ Mental Health Policy Lens), that has been developed to assess policies, programs and practices (in place or proposed) from the perspective of preventing and detecting elder abuse.

Elder Abuse: Frequently Asked Questions

What you need to know about elder abuse