Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Behind Closed Doors: Overcoming Elder Abuse!

Photo © Oakville News
A growing trend in elder abuse is leading provincial governments in Canada to reflect upon the state of elderly citizens. According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec “second to Japan (cited in Maltraitance-Aines) Quebec will see the sharpest rise in population aging within the shortest time span (29 years). In fact, between 1986 and 2009, the elder population aged 65 and over rose from 657,430 (9.8%) to 1.2 million (14.9%), and it is estimated that this number will rise to 2.3 million by 2031.”

Photo © Maltraitanceaines
Traditionally the care of the elderly has been the responsibility of the family. In India the first born son is responsible for his parents when they reach their twilight years. In South Korea, aging parents of the husband find comfort in their son’s home and play an active role in family politics. Similar situations can be found in Western societies, in particular where groups are religiously or ethnically homogenous. Nevertheless, the latter is becoming less of a norm as families in Western societies such as Canada, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom are turning to government and privately run residential homes to care for their elderly.

Residential Hell - One Man's Story

Photo © Maltraitanceaines
In Quebec, Canada it wasn’t long before Joe* found himself thrust into the world of residential homes in June 2010 after having a fall and subsequently breaking his hip. His belongings were packed up and his rental agreement broken. Joe* found himself unable to prevent this from happening. His input into his own care was limited. With no family to turn to, Joe* is one of millions in the same predicament. At what point do social services have the right to completely take over someone’s life? Joe* found himself placed in a private residential home in the L’Estrie area of Quebec, Canada. During his five months stay he was subject to various acts of intimidation including verbal, psychological and financial abuse.
“Soon after I moved in the owner came to me and said that what I was paying for rent was not enough. She began charging me for everything, from cleaning my room ($20.00 each time) to charging me for doing my laundry ($15.00). When I tried to complain they threatened me and took away privileges.” The final straw came one night when Joe* became ill and needed to be taken to hospital. “Refusing to let the paramedics into the residential home, they wheeled me to the front door in my wheelchair and pushed me out into the arms of the paramedics!”
Photo © Maltraitanceaines
Joe’s* social worker became involved once more and decided to move him to a new residential home. However, despite Joe’s* pleas, he has yet to receive the majority of his belongings including a computer, amongst many things. As a result, he has lost over $2,200.00 worth of belongings. When contacted, the private residential home in question declined an interview. This exploitation of senior citizens is all too common. In Joe’s* case, he was made out to be a trouble maker. Intimidated, he has yet to take any meaningful action against his abusers for fear of repercussion.

What You Can Do!

Photo © TheNonConformer
As the interview came to an end Joe* wiped tears from his eyes. “I don’t feel like anybody has even listened to me until now!” he said. “I’m completely powerless to do anything!” he added. Sometimes, simply listening can empower a victim to speak out against their abusers. Elder abuse can include but is not limited to ageism, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial or property abuse, human rights violations and negligence. Despite popular opinion, abusers are often those closest to or entrusted with the care of senior citizens. Thus, there are few options available to them as they suffer from diminished self-esteem that can cause depression and in severe cases post traumatic stress disorder.

If you or someone you know is being abused contact the Info-Abuse Line on 1 888 489-ABUS (2287). This is a professional service that will direct you to the appropriate resources necessary in helping prevent and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act. Violence is everyone’s business!

*Note Bene: Joe* was interviewed in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada on November 6, 2010. Joe* has used a pseudonym.


Aines-Info-Ggouv - Services Quebec: Elder abuse - Ministère de la Famille et des Aînés

Institut de la statistique du Québec. “Le bilan démographique du Québec. Édition 2009” (pp. 23 and 27), ISQ website. Gouvernement du Québec, Q4 2009. Web. (only available in French)

Institut de la statistique du Québec. “The Life Course of Birth Cohorts and the Elderly: Today and Tomorrow (Volume 1, p. 62)”. ISQ website. Gouvernement du Québec, Q2 2004

Maltraitance-Aines: Prevention and Awareness

Nota Bene: The above article was originally published in 2010 through Suite 101.com now known as Suite.io.  

Corbin, M.R.J.  (November 20, 2010), Behind Closed Doors: Overcoming Elder Abuse! In Health & Wellness.  Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd. Suite101.com.  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

1 comment:

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