B.C. parliamentary secretary for seniors' services and longterm care Mable Elmore issued this statement for World Elder Abuse and Awareness Day 2021 (June 15):
"This year, we follow B.C. Seniors' Week with World Elder Abuse and Awareness Day. It's a sobering reminder that many seniors and elders in our province face issues of abuse that often go unrecognized, and that the isolation seniors have experienced during COVID-19 can hide cases of abuse and make bad situations worse.
Elder abuse threatens the quality of life British Columbians deserve. It can take many forms. Financial and emotional abuse appear to be the most prevalent forms. Abuse can also be verbal, physical, spiritual, and sexual, among other actions. It's important to understand that neglect, including self-neglect, is also a form of abuse. Seniors who are victims of violence usually know their attackers. Caregivers, family members or loved ones can abuse and neglect, and it can happen anywhere.
A national prevalence study found approximately eight percent of seniors in B.C. experience some form of abuse. However, this number may be higher, as older adults are often reluctant to report abuse. Elder abuse is too often ignored and swept under the rug. It's time to shine a light on the seniors in our province who may be at risk of abuse.
British Columbians share a duty to protect seniors and elders. That's why we have mechanisms in place to identify abuse and respond to it, while providing support to the senior and loved ones. In emergency situations, call 911. Otherwise, call the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) at 1-866-437-1940 to talk to a trained intake worker about abuse or mistreatment. In addition, government has developed an information kit, available in several languages, to help older adults learn how to prevent and recognize abuse when it happens, know how to respond and know where they can find assistance.
We have also provided more than $1.3 million in provincial funding from 2020 to support the Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, lead World Elder Abuse and Awareness Day events, raise public awareness of senior and elder abuse, and host informational workshops throughout the province.
People can join in and raise awareness of this important day with 'purple power', which can mean wearing your favourite purple shirt, passing out irises (the official flower), and finding fun ways to spread awareness throughout the province via social media. Purple lights will light the way at B.C.'s Parliament Buildings, and a purple flag will be hoisted to mark the day.
Regardless of the form it takes, senior and elder abuse is unacceptable. Join us this year in sharing awareness of this issue facing seniors, and take action in your community to safeguard seniors' quality of life by preventing abuse from happening."
To learn more about elder abuse and neglect, visit this B.C. government website.