How to help an elderly person victim of abuse

November 15, 2007 by Martine Rodrigue

How to help an elderly person victim of abuse

In the past few years we heard stories in the media about abuse on the elderly. Are we just becoming aware of this new situation? No, the silence is hard to break for the victims of abuse as well as for the witnesses.

It is recognized that 4 to 10 % of the population over 65 years of age is affected. We know that violence is the most hidden type of abuse. But what do we mean by abuse? It is defined as any behaviour which can cause harm to the person.

We can categorize the different forms of abuse: physical, psychological and financial abuse as well as negligence and violations of social rights. It shouldn’t be forgotten that one person may be victim of several types of abuse.

The elderly person victim of abuse will generally become dependant of the person who abuses them. For this reason, they often don’t press any charges against their aggressor, feeling ashamed. Also, they don’t want to be rejected by their loved ones. This is what makes the detection of abusive relations difficult.

If I recognize several signs of abuse, what should I do? If I have a trusting relationship with an individual, it is very important not to break it.

In most cases, the victim is not willing to admit that they are abused and often refuses the help offered. The best option to obtain services to support the elderly victim of abuse is with your local CLSC. Do not hesitate to contact them concerning these services.

Don’t forget: It is important to reassure the person victim of abuse by telling them that they can refuse interventions at any moment.

How to recognize the signs of abuse towards an elderly person:
  • Physical marks (bruises, fractures, burns, etc.)
  • Depressive state
  • Excusing the reprehensible behaviours of their children
  • Submissiveness
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Being controlled by their children or spouse
  • A sole caregiver that takes on the responsibility of caring for the needs of an elder who is no longer independent, without accepting help
  • Quarrels with family members
  • Lack of funds
  • Poor hygiene, absence of hearing aids, or dentures

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