Submitted. While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility, it remains one of the least investigated types of exploitation. Recent research findings draw specific attention to the financial exploitation of older persons as a common and serious problem. Based on available evidence, 5 to 10 per cent of older people globally may experience some kind of financial exploitation, however such abuse often goes unreported, partly due to shame and embarrassment on the part of the victims or their inability to report it because of cognitive and other impairments.
Financial exploitation takes many forms. In countries like Canada, the abuse often encompasses theft, forgery, misuse of property and power of attorney, as well as denying access to funds. Risk factors for falling victim to financial exploitation include:
- social isolation and lack of support networks
- cognitive impairment
- emotional or physical dependence on the perpetrator
- financial dependence of the abuser on the older person
“Older people have the right to a life of dignity, free of all forms of abuse, including financial and material exploitation, which could lead to poverty, hunger, homelessness, compromised health and well-being,” said Shawn Good, President & CEO of Prospera Credit Union. “It’s important that we educate our staff, members and communities on how to help protect seniors.
The BC Association of Community Response Network provides education and support to promote communities that are free of abuse for vulnerable adults. The network is comprised of formal groups of frontline people (police, social workers, caregivers and healthcare professionals) who come together at the community level to create a co-ordinated response to abuse and offer support.
The association is focused on:
Promoting the well-being of older adults
● Working to increase community awareness
● Developing resources to address elder abuse
● Strengthening the right to safety, respect and dignity
Currently, the association has services available in 133 BC communities and over 1,000 community organizations are connected to the network, with new communities continually being added. In addition to information about workshops and other resources on their website, the association has a helpful brochure that describes what to look out for and how to respond if you suspect someone is the victim of abuse.
The BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support also operates a provincial Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL). SAIL provides a safe way for seniors and those who care about them to obtain assistance, support and information about elder abuse. The toll free number is 1-866-437-1940 and service is available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm seven days a week.
Finally, if you suspect abuse or neglect, don’t assume that someone has already reported it, and in cases of immediate danger call 911.
About Prospera Credit Union
Building on more than 70 years as a BC credit union, Prospera is proud to serve a membership that is 63,000 strong. As a values-based financial institution, our number one priority is the financial well-being of families and businesses in our local communities and our dedicated team is here to serve all of their banking, lending, investing and insurance needs through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking and an alternative channel that includes a locally-based Contact Centre and Broker Centre. Through our affiliation with The Exchange network, members also enjoy access to thousands of surcharge free ATMs across Canada (that’s right, no ATM fees). Making life better for everyone is important at Prospera, which has an extensive community investment program devoted to supporting the organizations, events and volunteers that make our BC communities stronger. To learn more, check out Prospera’s Facebook page or visit www.dontjustbankprosper.ca.