Alberta's definition of elder abuse may be updated after public survey

·2 min read
The provincial government is encouraging Albertans to participate in a survey to provide input into a plan to create a more specific definition of elder abuse.  (Shutterstock - image credit)
The provincial government is encouraging Albertans to participate in a survey to provide input into a plan to create a more specific definition of elder abuse. (Shutterstock - image credit)

The province is encouraging Albertans to participate in a survey to help create a more specific definition of elder abuse — which it says will help prevent it and improve safety for seniors.

According to a release on Monday, the government says it heard from seniors' community stakeholders that the current definition is too broad and that it's not consistently applied across the province.

Elder abuse is currently defined in law as "any action or inaction, by self or others, that jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older adult."

But government consultations suggest a new definition needs to focus on areas like relationships of trust, aligning with the continuum of family violence and improved responses to individual needs.

In June, the government provided $750,000 to a council to help prevent and address elder abuse by having a coordinated community response to a variety of communities.

Shantel Ottenbreit, chair of the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council, said in the release Monday that having a common definition would be a key step forward to recognizing the impact and severity of the problem.

In Calgary, the Kerby Centre's Rotary Shelter is one of the few elder abuse shelters in Alberta.

The CEO Larry Mathieson says he supports the government's initiative and hopes it translates into improved legislation and increased public awareness.

"Physical violence is just part of the challenge. There's often a constellation of issues and types of abuse," he said, adding it can also include psychological and financial abuse.

Mathieson says at the Rotary Shelter, its services are usually full of seniors in need.

"I think more is showing up on the radar, and so I think that's a combination of a larger population of seniors, also an awareness," he said.

The public can participate in the online survey at alberta.ca until Oct. 25.

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