Wise Owl: Elder Abuse Facts

Elder Abuse Facts

The Wise Owls program is supported by the RCMP & Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, and it aims to educate seniors. Seniors gain the necessary tools to recognize a problem, who to talk to, how to report it and where to go for more information. We provide awareness and education for seniors. While the senior population grows, so does their vulnerability to abuse. Elder abuse is any action or inaction by self or others that jeopardizes the health or well-being of any senior.


Elder abuse can take several forms including financial, emotional, physical, sexual, or neglect, and often more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. The two most frequently identified and reported types of elder abuse in Canada are financial and emotional. Any senior can become a victim of elder abuse, and often these types of abuse go unreported. However, various studies indicate that between four and eight percent of older adults in Canada are likely to experience abuse. Shame or guilt may stop a senior from revealing their abuse. Sometimes victims simply cannot report it. Whether a victim is unable or unwilling, some of the barriers to revealing elder abuse include fear, love for the abuser, lack of understanding or impairment, lack of awareness of resource options, or acceptance of abuse or neglect as normal.

Elder abuse is often committed by someone known to the victim, such as a family member, friend, or caregiver. Approximately 25 percent of crimes against older adults are committed by family members, usually a spouse or adult child. Abusers can also include friends, neighbours, paid care providers, landlords, and staff, or any individual in a position of power, trust, or authority. Like other types of family violence, the dynamics of elder abuse are complex. Elder abuse is often impacted by the mental and physical conditions of both the abuser and the victim, with these factors interacting in ways uniquely dependent on the individuals involved and the situation.

Common signs of elder abuse:

  • confusion
  • depression or anxiety
  • unexplained injuries
  • changes in hygiene
  • seeming fearful around certain people
  • fear or worry when talking about money

What to do if you think you are being abused:

Leave the situation if you are in immediate danger. Go to a safe place, such as with a neighbour, friend, or relative. Go into a business or when calling a helpline ask to be taken to a shelter. If you are unable to leave your home, call 911 immediately. Confide in someone you trust and tell them about what is happening, this could be a friend or family member, public health nurse, social worker, home care worker, someone at your place of worship, or a doctor.

Keep a record and write down what is happening to you and keep a daily record. This will help you to document the abuse and help others assist you if you need it. Take legal action, all forms of abuse are wrong. Some forms are illegal. Your local police service or a police-based victim services unit can give you information. If you have been a victim of a crime, your first step is to call the police. They will investigate the crime and refer you to a victim services unit for assistance. Victim services units are staffed with trained, caring people who offer information, assistance, and support to victims during the police investigation and throughout the criminal justice process.

Friendly Reminders

Report crime online!

The RCMP are encouraging all Albertans to report eligible crimes online (select property crimes under $5,000). Reporting less serious crimes online helps emergency dispatch and frontline members focus their time on high-priority calls. It provides a convenient way to share photos to the RCMP as well. These reports assist in crime analysis, aid in establishing trends and patterns, and ultimately leads investigators to the chronic offenders. It also assists in making decisions about how and where to deploy resources. Crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as crime reported in any other way.  

Help reduce crime, report online! #ReportSmart

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November 29, 2021