LETHBRIDGE - The Lethbridge Elder Abuse Response Network (LEARN) gets anywhere from five to 10 calls per week from seniors in potentially abusive situations, or those who are concerned about them.
At a Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs information (SACPA) session Thursday, speakers Rob Miyashiro, Lavonn Mutch, and Joanne Blinco - all members of LEARN - talked about the various forms of abuse, how often it can occur, and how to get help.
Miyashiro described elder abuse as any action or inaction by self or others that jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older adult. The abuse can take several forms, including financial, emotional, physical, sexual, medical, or neglect. Many times, seniors can experience more than one type of abuse at the same time.
Blinco, who is a Case Manager, says she's the one on the other end of the telephone when someone calls out of concern.
"I receive the call that the senior is needing assistance in some way around abuse. So what Lethbridge Elder Abuse does, is respond to situations where there has been a family who has caused the senior to be in distress in some way."
That distress can also include physical injury, restraint, threats, ridicule, humiliation or insults, withholding medication, unwanted touching or sexual contact, forced isolation or even forced changes in living arrangements.
"If there's a family or a caregiver, that's where we would come in and support that senior in that area," says Blinco. "If it doesn't fit those mandates, then I would help to find other resources."
She explained that there are 27 different agencies in Lethbridge that can provide support, assistance or investigative services, including police.
"A link into other community resources, are something I have access to. So, I go to them, we talk about what they'd like to see different, and then I provide support at that point in time. And I work with Cst. Kara Hagen (with Lethbridge Police Service), so if there's any police matters that come, any criminal matters, then Kara and I can attend a home together, which also provides the support to seniors."
According to information from LEARN, about eight per cent of Canadian seniors experience some type of abuse each year. That equates to about 1,300 seniors in Lethbridge.
Symptoms of elder abuse may include fear, anxiety or sudden depression, caregivers always speaking on behalf of the older person, missing property, poor hygiene, overdue bills and trickery used in the signing of wills or releasing of property.
For more information, or help, contact LEARN at 403-394-0306 or go to http://lethseniors.com/support-services/learn-lethbridge-elder-abuse-response-network/ .
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