Prairie Post (East Edition)

Preventing elder abuse in Alberta SALUTE TO 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,” said Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing this summer.

“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,” added Shantel Ottenbreit, chair, Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council.

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:

1. Improved awareness about what elder abuse is and how to prevent, identify and address it.

2. Training for skilled service providers, including customized training for Indigenous communitie­s, health profession­als and housing providers.

3. Coordinate­d community responses where communitie­s and partners coordinate effectivel­y to address elder abuse.

4. Protective laws and policies to protect seniors and uphold their rights.

5. 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,” said 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.

Quick facts

• 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.

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