The CORE Elder Abuse Discussion Group hosted their first discussion forum on August 13, 2020. The Forum was facilitated by Charlene Sitar, Regional Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator for the Yellowhead Elder Abuse Response Network. There were 71 participants from communities across Alberta, such as Girouxville, Athabasca, Cold Lake, Rocky Mountain House, Hinton, Okotoks and Lethbridge.
Charlene asked participants to describe the current trends in elder abuse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants covered many topics, such as the following:
Isolation and limited social contact has impacted older adults across the province, as there are fewer eyes and ears on seniors to ensure their safety.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults have experienced changes in housing and living arrangements, such as family members moving back into their homes and seniors seeking emergency shelter.
Shelter space for seniors is limited and seniors who flee abuse sometimes face subsequent housing issues.
Older adults depend more on their family members for homecare/home supports due to reduced services and families who have voluntarily cancelled home care supports.
There is an increase in caregiver stress because of a lack of services and respite during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can increase situations of elder abuse.
Service providers are calling for legislative changes to improve responses to elder abuse.
Participants were also encouraged to share strategies and resources from their communities that have addressed their unmet needs, which included the following:
Community innovation and collaboration has increased to address gaps in services, like food security and home care.
Organizations connect to seniors virtually with phone calls and online programming.
Organizations use wellness checks in every conversation with seniors (e.g. – seniors’ tax clinics and food delivery).
Organizations recognize the importance of educating community members (i.e. – pharmacists) on recognizing signs of elder abuse through programs like Neighbours, Friends and Families – It’s Not Right.
If you and/or your organizations have or are developing solutions and strategies to address elder abuse, join the CORE Elder Abuse Group to take part in this important and ongoing conversation as the Group identifies actionable opportunities to move the needle on this issue.