Support and Prevention

If you are an elder experiencing abuse

If you are being abused please know that you are not alone, and that no form of abuse is acceptable. Please also be aware that:

  • Abuse is not your fault, nor is it a way of life, religion or culture
  • You have the right to live free from fear and harm
  • You alone cannot control or change the abuser
  • Abuse often becomes worse the longer it is allowed to continue
  • No one “deserves” abuse

People will help and support you. You can call:

9-1-1 (for emergencies)

Senior Crimestoppers 1-800-222-8477

Your local police or OPP

Ontario Senior Safety Line 1-866-299-1011 (24 hours/7 days per week, 150 languages)

Long Term Care Action Line 1-866-434-0144

Retirement Home Regulatory Authority 1-855-275-7472

If you are concerned about an elder

What should you do and how can you help

In Ontario, Elder abuse is not a mandatory reportable offence as it is with children, unless the elder lives in Long Term Care Home or a Retirement Home. It is however a chargeable offence if the elder decides that they want to press charges.

If you suspect that abuse is taking place there are several things you can do:

  • Support them. Let them know that you are there to listen to them
  • Believe them. It may be very hard for the elder to open up about abuse, especially if it involves a family member. Showing that you believe them and are not judging them by the situation they are in will demonstrate that they are not alone and that you will help
  • Educate yourself and the elder. Assist the elder to find resources that are available to get help with the situation such as the community or provincial police, your local CCAC, support groups, and legal resources
  • Be patient. Understand that breaking the pattern of abuse is not always easy, and often does not happen overnight. The elder needs to feel confident and secure in their decision, and this can be an emotional time for them
  • Stay neutral. Do not confront the abuser yourself. In doing so you may worsen the situation or cause the elder to be isolated from you. You want to make sure that you can be there to support the elder until they are ready to make a change
  • Encourage the elder. Make the elder aware that everyone has the right to live free from fear and harm

If you are a caregiver or are concerned about a caregiver

Caregivers may experience feelings of isolation, frustration, anger, anxiety, exhaustion and helplessness when taking care of an elder that can have an impact on their emotional and physical well-being. There are several things a caregiver can do to reduce their stress level that will be beneficial to themselves and therefore to the elder as well. These are:

  • Take time for YOU
  • Ask for help from other family members or friends
  • Contact community agencies such as your local CCAC or VON to inquire about professional assistance or relief care
  • See a physician for health concerns
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling

If you know a caregiver who is taking care of an elder, there are also several ways that you can help reduce their stress level such as:

  • Listen to them when they need to talk about their feelings
  • Offer to relieve them so they can get out for a while. Some caregivers may be reluctant to ask for help thinking they can handle things on their own, or because they don’t want to bother anyone
  • Offer to run errands, take the elder to appointments or do grocery shopping
  • Check-in via phone, email or a quick visit. Sometimes just a few minutes of contact with someone outside of the home can be beneficial to reducing stress
  • Know the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and risk factors for abuse
  • Ask what type of help they need the most and help them find support with this