Yesterday, I opened my social media homepage to discover that an elderly couple had been found dead in their home very close to where I live. A suspect was in custody.
But as the story unfolded, I learned that the couple, aged 85 and 87, lived in the home with their adult son who had a history of mental illness . It was he who was being held by police following the homicide. He had been charged with assault in 2000 against one of the parents.
The story hit home, it made me shutter.
What can we do better to protect the elderly in our society?
As our aging population continues to grow, how can we ensure our loved ones are safe at home or in a care facility?
Elder abuse can take many forms, it can be physical violence, neglect, financial abuse or psychological/emotional abuse.
We as a society have to stand up and take notice. We have to report abuse when we see it and not turn our heads and look away. If you have a family member in a care facility, look for signs of neglect. These can include dry lips from dehydration, changes in behavior including withdrawal, unexplained injuries, poor hygiene, or a general unkempt appearance.
Drop in unexpectedly to see what happens on a daily basis, not just on a regular Sunday visit.
Seniors are the least likely demographic in our society at risk for violent crime but they are the most at risk for suffering violence at the hand of a family member.
Quebec has responded to elder abuse by initiating an elder abuse help line. La Ligne Aide Abus Aine 514-489-3387 or 1-888-489-ABUS (2287)
For more information, check out the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse website atwww.cnpea.ca.