Preventing Elder Abuse in Rural Communities

Preventing Elder Abuse in Rural Communities

With the aging population in Alberta, elder abuse is a growing concern that requires more awareness. It is estimated that nearly one in 10 Alberta seniors may be victims of some form of elder abuse. While elder abuse can occur anywhere, seniors in rural communities are more vulnerable. Without the knowledge of what defines elder abuse and how to escape harm, it is difficult to stop this form of abuse. We hope that by providing knowledge and discussing effective strategies for preventing elder abuse, as a community, we can create a safer environment for the elderly population.

Understanding Elder Abuse

There are several factors that are behind each case of elder abuse. The type of abuse, who commits the crime and the reasoning are unique to each incident. 

The different types of abuse can include physical, emotional, psychological, and financial. Neglect is also considered abuse.

Abusers can be family members, friends, caregivers or strangers. Their actions can be driven by a history of experiencing abuse themselves. They may be overwhelmed by the dependency the senior has developed. Stress and a lack of knowledge can also factor into cases of elder abuse. However, we will reiterate that there is no cut-and-dry reasoning behind cases of elder abuse, and no reason is acceptable.

Challenges Faced by Rural Seniors

While elder abuse can occur anywhere, rural seniors often encounter unique challenges that contribute to their vulnerability.

The isolation experienced by many seniors who live in remote rural areas increases their susceptibility to abuse, as offenders may take advantage of their loneliness and lack of connections.

Whether it is a lack of support services available or the physical distance they have to travel to access these services and healthcare facilities, it can be difficult for seniors to seek assistance when they need them.

There also tends to be a general lack of awareness and education about elder abuse, making it challenging for seniors and those around them to recognize and report abusive behaviour.

Strategies for Prevention

Because seniors living in rural communities may face specific challenges, such as isolation and limited access to resources, we need to develop effective strategies to prevent elder abuse in rural areas. These strategies can include community outreach programs, education on recognizing and reporting abuse, and ensuring that seniors have access to support networks and resources.

  • Community outreach and education: Workshops and resources on recognizing and reporting elder abuse can empower seniors and community members to take action.
  • Building support networks: Encouraging regular check-ins and building a stronger sense of community can create a safe environment for seniors.
  • Leveraging technology: Educating seniors on how to use websites for support groups and safety apps can improve their chances of getting help.
  • Educating every generation: Teaching younger generations how to treat and respect older adults is an important part of stopping elder abuse. Children who witness their grandparents being abused may view this negative behaviour toward seniors as acceptable and may continue this chain of abuse. 
  • Abuse is not private: Abuse and neglect affect individuals, families, communities and, ultimately, society. So, it’s important for those experiencing abuse to not view it as embarrassing or as a private matter; they need to feel comfortable reaching out for help.

What You Should Do if You Think You Are Being Abused

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, seek help immediately. Contact local authorities, social services, or organizations specializing in elder abuse for support and guidance.

Leave the situation if you are in immediate danger

Go to a safe place, such as a neighbour, friend or relative’s home. You can also go into a business and ask for help. 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

Tell someone you trust what is happening. It could be a friend or family member, health provider, social worker, home care worker, or someone at your place of worship. They can aid in finding help and you will not feel alone. 

Keep a record

Write down what is happening to you and keep a daily record. This will help you document the abuse and help those assisting you.

Take legal action

Some forms of abuse are illegal, but all forms are wrong. You may consider a court protection order that would stop the abusive person from contacting you. Your local police or a police-based victim services unit can provide you with information.

Don't blame yourself

No one deserves to be abused, and it is not your fault. Many groups in your community want to help you protect your rights, safety, and dignity.

Resources for Those Experiencing Elder Abuse

There is help available if you are experiencing any form of elder abuse. Here are some resources that you can access.


Preventing elder abuse in rural communities requires a community-wide effort. We must work together to ensure our elderly community members are safe, respected, and supported. By raising awareness, promoting education, and implementing proactive measures, we can create a safer environment for our elderly population. Get involved in elder abuse prevention efforts and join us in protecting our seniors' well-being. And remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, you should seek help, and you will not be judged. Together, we can prevent crime and create a culture of care and protection for seniors.


June 05, 2024