What is Elder Abuse?

2 Minute Read

If you have an older adult in your life, such as a grandparent or an aging parent, it is important to raise self-awareness of elder abuse as it is often considered an underreported ‘hidden’ crime, many times occurring behind closed doors and at the hands of ‘trusted’ people.


According to Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario (EAPO), elder abuse can defined by the following characteristics:

  • There is harm, abuse, neglect, or distress.
  • The victim is an older adult.
  • There is often an expectation of trust.
  • There is an imbalance of control or power.
  • It is likely to be a recurrent incident.

There are many forms that elder abuse can take on, some are harder to notice than others. Many times, the abuser takes advantage of a mental or physical vulnerability that an older adult may have.

Elder abuse can include:

  • Physical or sexual abuse: hitting, pushing, forced confinement, unwanted sexual assault or activity, unwarranted use of medications
  • Financial abuse: stealing, fraud, extortion, misuse of powers of attorney
  • Neglect: failing to give food/water, mental attention, necessary care, visits to family, and abandonment
  • Psychological abuse: infantilization, humiliation, insulting, fighting, manipulation, lying, threatening, ignoring

For older adults, financial abuse is the most common type of elder abuse (EAPO). Some red flags for financial abuse include sudden decreases in funds to pay for living expenses, large gifts or transfers of assets, coercion to sign documents, and suspicious alterations to a Power of Attorney.


If you’d like more information and resources regarding elder abuse, learn more on Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario’s website or reach out to them by telephone at (416) 916-6728. There is also a Seniors Safety Line that is available 24/7, confidential, and free that can be reached at 1-866-299-1011.


KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Powers of Attorney: It is important to remember that individuals who lack the legal capacity to make a Power of Attorney will not be able to create a valid one, taking away their choice of substitute decision-maker. If you are a legally capable older adult, you should ensure that you have a valid Power of Attorney in place, giving you the chance to appoint one or more trusted individuals to make decisions on your behalf, and express your lifestyle, healthcare, and end-of-life wishes if you become incapable. You should also consider safeguarding your substitute decision-making documents from Power of Attorney fraud by having them requested into the searchable, retraceable, and accessible secured storage known as the POA Registry.

The lawyers at Sweatman Law have the experience to guide you through your options and help you tailor your substitute decision plans. Contact us here to reach out!


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DISCLAIMER: This blog post should not be interpreted as legal advice for your specific situation, concerns, or challenges. All legal situations are unique and should be discussed with legal, financial, and health professionals, and tax accountants. Please be advised that the information on this website relates to laws specific to Ontario or Canadian federal law. Legal advice, procedure, and legislature may vary in different jurisdictions.

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