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Working together to define elder abuse

Alberta government seeks input from the public to update the definition of elder abuse
elder
A new definition of elder abuse is just the beginning, say governments and senior-serving organizations. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Albertans are invited to provide input into the new definition of elder abuse with an online survey, open until October 25. In a press release, the government announced the revised definition will be used to inform legislation, policies and programs to better meet the needs of seniors and support organizations.

The clear and specific definition will improve the safety and well-being of seniors across the province, according to Shantel Ottenbreit, chair of Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council. 

“Having a common definition to define elder abuse in Alberta is a key step forward to recognizing the impact and severity that elder abuse has in the lives of older adults experiencing it. The Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council appreciates the Government of Alberta’s leadership in creating this definition," she said.

Elder abuse is currently defined as any action or inaction, by self or others, that jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older adult. Prior to 2020, it was estimated nearly one in 10 Alberta seniors may be abused in some way.

Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing said the consistent definition of elder abuse is the first step to shaping a new strategy to address the issue. 

"Elder abuse is unacceptable in any form. We will work with communities, stakeholders and Albertans of all ages to strengthen protections for seniors," Pon said.

Stakeholders and the public can share their thoughts on the enhanced definition through the online survey at alberta.ca. 

There are several resources to support individuals and organizations as they work to prevent and address elder abuse:

  • Collaborative Online Resources and Education (CORE) Alberta is an online platform that helps organizations improve service delivery by sharing resources and coordinating services. Currently, 28 organizations are using the platform to collaborate on elder abuse prevention.

  • Addressing Elder Abuse: A Toolkit for Developing a Coordinated Community Response to Elder Abuse is designed to help communities increase their capacity to address elder abuse.

  • The Social Isolation resource kit provides tools to help service providers raise awareness about the relationship between social isolation and elder abuse.

    • Call 911 if you, or someone you know, is being abused and is in immediate danger.

    • The police can apply for an Emergency Protection Order to provide you with immediate protection if you are in imminent danger.

    • A 24-hour Family Violence Info Line is available at     310-1818 to receive anonymous help in more than 170 languages.

    • There are three elder abuse shelters in Alberta:

      • Kerby Rotary Shelter in Calgary – 403-705-3250

      • Sage Seniors Safe House in Edmonton – 780-702-1520

      • Elder Abuse Shelter in Red Deer – 403-343-6074