Campaign creates awareness surrounding elder abuse

·3 min read

A new initiative led by Grey Bruce Elder Abuse Prevention, a sub-committee of Violence Prevention Grey Bruce, has launched, with the goal of raising awareness about elder abuse and the resources available to seniors in Grey and Bruce counties.

The campaign will initially offer a resource poster to local groups and businesses, and soon provide free virtual education presentations. The project is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce that was awarded in late 2019 and had to be postponed because of the pandemic. The plan is to roll out the project between January and March of this year, instead.

Jon Farmer, coordinator of Violence Prevention Grey Bruce, says the first three months will focus on getting the word out about the initiative and distributing the posters to as many outlets as possible.

“We wanted to create a resource that would be accessible for seniors,” said Farmer. “The posters come in two sizes and with a large font so that folks with limited vision can read them. We can send them out to any organization or individual who asks for them. Originally, we planned to offer in-person educational sessions to community groups but the pandemic makes that impossible. Instead we’ll be offering online and teleconference sessions so that people can learn more about the issue and where to access help in Grey Bruce”.

Farmer says elder abuse can take many forms, not just physical violence. Victims may be suffering from physiological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, or neglect and abandonment. Isolation is also a risk factor.

“The risk of seniors being exploited or falling victim to scams is higher now that community programs are closed and social visiting is discouraged,” said Farmer. “GBEAP reports that calls to the provincial senior’s safety line have risen 300% during the pandemic.”

The information is for seniors but is also available to “anyone who has a senior in their life that they care about,” said Farmer.

“We’ve heard a lot in the news about the impact the pandemic is having on seniors in long term care and seniors’ vulnerability to the virus itself, but we also need to increase community conversations about the increased risk of elder abuse and how to recognize the signs and symptoms,” said Farmer. “We need people to know what the risk factors are and how to access services so that seniors are better supported by their loved ones as well as better prepared to protect themselves.”

The virtual presentations will be available to community groups, churches and organizations and can be formatted to fit the level of interest and time constraints of the group. Two Zoom information sessions have been scheduled for Feb. 11 and Mar. 11, and will offer an introduction to the issue of elder abuse, signs and symptoms, and resources available to support elders who have experienced abuse. Registration is capped at 100 participants. Registration is open at www.vpgb.ca and Eventbrite.ca.

“These workshops compliment the release of our elder abuse resource poster,” said Farmer. “The posters collect information about the supports available but supports can only help when people recognize that they or a loved one is experiencing abuse”.

Posters can be ordered, and education sessions arranged, by emailing coordinator@violencepreventiongreybruce.com. Posters are available in two sizes, 8.5 X 11 and 11 X 17 inches. Recordings of some of the presentations will be made available on the Violence Prevention website, http://www.violencepreventiongreybruce.com, and on social media.

Farmer says information about elder abuse is available on the Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario website at www.eapon.ca. The senior’s safety line, a 24-hour crisis and support line for seniors in Ontario who have experienced any type of abuse or neglect, is live 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and can be accessed by calling 1-866-299-1011. Anyone experiencing abuse should call 911 if they are in immediate danger.

Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent