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Elder abuse a continuing problem

Police in the nation's capital are reminding adult children of elderly people in long-term care to watch for signs of abuse. This comes on the tail of an Ontario police investigation into an alleged incident of elder abuse perpetrated against an 89-year-old man at a city-run long-term care facility in Ottawa. While it is mandatory for care facilities to report abuse to police, in many instances, the incidents go tragically unreported.

Video has been released of an 89-year-old man being violently attacked by a personal support worker, which was apparently recorded last March. The care facility reportedly installed hidden cameras in the room of the victim, who apparently suffers from dementia and was therefore unable to provide an accurate account of the attack, which officials believe was not the only one. The care worker is said to have pleaded guilty to charges of assault after the video came to light.

Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this sort of violence tend to be people the elderly person trusts, such as a family member, power of attorney, neighbour or even care worker in a facility. Seniors who are able to report these incidents often choose not to for fear of dragging their families through a legal battle, or even just due to the stress of testifying in court. Of course, fear is a primary motivator in these cases, which is why so much importance is placed on providing support to individuals who do wish to come forward.

Elder abuse is an ongoing issue throughout Ontario and all of Canada, and most Canadians would likely agree that abuse directed at a vulnerable sector of society is especially reprehensible. This is why legal support exists not just for the victimized seniors but also their families. By working with experienced attorneys, families can drag these issues into the light where they can be studied, and where rules and regulations can be put into place to keep elder abuse from becoming even more common.

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