What Do I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse?
In consideration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today I thought I would provide some resources to those who may be asking – what do I do if I suspect elder abuse?
The World Health Organization defines “elder abuse” as: A single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person (usually 60 years or older).
Elder abuse can take many forms – physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, financial abuse, or often a combination of these forms. One of the most common forms of abuse estate litigators see is financial abuse.
Financial abuse is any theft or exploitation of an individual’s money, property or assets. Some examples include stealing, fraud, extortion or misusing a power of attorney, improper use of joint bank accounts, forgery, and transfer of real property. Often, there is a relationship of trust/dependency between the victim and the abuser such as parent and adult child.
Elder abuse is a serious issue which is projected to intensify as a large proportion of the population ages.
For more information about elder abuse, or if you are concerned that someone is a victim of elder abuse, these resources may be of assistance:
- Ottawa Police Service – Elder Abuse section (concerns about suspected or actual abuse should be reported to the police for investigation at 613-236-1222 x2400)
- Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
- Elder Abuse Response & Referral Service (EARRS)
- Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario
- Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT)
- The OPGT is responsible for protecting mentally incapable people. The OPGT will conduct an investigation when it receives information that an individual may be incapable and at risk of suffering serious financial or personal harm and no alternative solution is available. An investigation may result in the OPGT asking the court for authority to make decisions on the person’s behalf on a temporary basis. The Guardian Investigation Unit can be reached at 1-800-366-0335 or 416-327-6348
- If you are concerned about an older adult who is at significant risk of harm, is being abused, requires urgent care or it is an emergency, call 911.
If you have questions, you may also wish to reach out to a lawyer for legal advice.