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Elder abuse on the rise across the nation

When thinking about abuse, most people immediately think of children as Canada's most vulnerable sector of people. While it is true that children are indeed vulnerable to abuse, some Ontario residents do not realize that the senior population is also frequently the victims of what is termed "elder abuse". Troublingly, according to Statistics Canada, that number is on the rise both here and elsewhere in the country. 

While Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta lead the numbers in the prevalence of elder abuse, the problem is very clearly widespread. Crisis lines have reported a growing rate of calls pertaining to seniors being abused by caregivers in retirement homes and even by other family members. When asked what is causing this uptick in incidences, some experts point to economic downturn as a potential factor. While a poor economy is not the primary cause of elder abuse, money troubles can intensify family unrest, which can then lead to abuse. 

As with many other forms of abuse, the statistics can only tell residents so much. In many cases, abuse in the home is not reported -- either out of fear of making the situation worse or, in the case of children and elders, a physical and/or financial dependency on the abuser. Many experts agree the only way to combat this growing trend is to keep talking about it in a public sphere in order to destigmatize the issue. 

Elder abuse is an extremely upsetting social issue that affects families here in Ontario and across the nation. The country's most vulnerable demographics deserve to be heard, believed and protected from mistreatment. This is why it is so important for anyone who becomes aware of such abuse to seek out the appropriate support, from social services to law enforcement, and even to experienced attorneys who handle cases pertaining to this shameful behaviour. 

Source: CBC News, "'Calls to our crisis line have grown significantly': Family violence up in Alberta", Feb. 17, 2017

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