Elder abuse or neglect is when there is violence against seniors or mistreatment of seniors, including neglect of seniors who depend on others for care.
The abuse and neglect of older adults involves any form of mistreatment of an older person by a caregiver, family member, spouse, friend or other individuals in situations of power or trust.
The abuse and neglect of older adults can be a one-time occurrence or a continuous pattern of behaviour that may start in small ways and escalate over a period of time to more overt or violent behaviour.
Many types of abuse, and some types of neglect, are criminal offences. If you or an older person you know is a victim of abuse or violence, help is available through victim services and other resources. For more information, see this Help Starts Here infosheet.
Abuse and neglect encompass a wide range of behaviours. Forms of mistreatment may include physical assault or abuse, sexual assault, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse or neglect.
To learn more about Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults, see the Help Starts Here infosheet
The Criminal Code protects the rights of seniors to live free of abuse. In BC, the Adult Guardianship Act provides for adults who are unable to get help because of a physical constraint, disability or other condition.
Designated agencies respond to reports of abuse or neglect involving adults in these circumstances and notify police if they think a criminal offence has been committed. Other laws that protect seniors are the Public Guardian and Trustee Act, the Representation Agreement Act, Community Care and Assisted Living Act , and the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act.
Each person can have different reactions to being a victim. Signs that an older person is a victim of acts of violence or neglect may include:
Physical signs such as bruising, black eyes, welts, cuts or injuries in states of healing.
Emotional signs such as mood swings, shaken sense of personal safety, heightened sense of smell or hearing, emotional detachment, disassociation, and so on.
If you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, or if you just want to talk to someone, you can call:
VictimLinkBC: 1-800-563-0808 or visit: www.VictimLinkBC.ca.
Seniors Abuse & Information Line (SAIL): 604-437-1940 | 1-866-437-1940 (toll free)
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or needs urgent medical assistance, call 911.
If the situation is not urgent but you want to report it to the police, call the non-emergency number for police in your community.
If you’re not sure about talking to the police, call VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808 or the Seniors Abuse & Information Line 604-437-1940 to discuss your options.
If you are being abused, talk to another adult you can trust. If you need help ask for it. If you have the opportunity to talk your doctor or a home care worker or health nurse, tell them about the abuse.
You may wish to report elder abuse or neglect to the police. If you’re not sure about reporting to the police, please call VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808 or the Seniors Abuse & Information Line at 604-437-1940 to discuss your options.
Staff at Victim Services & Crime Prevention as well as resources available from the BC Center for Elder Advocacy and Support (bcceas.ca) helped to create this fact sheet.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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