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Events aim to prevent elder abuse in future generations

By: Amy Crofts

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jun 07, 2014 06:00 am

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Proclamation event

A public awareness event will be held on June 13 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the
at The St. Albert 50+ Club.
A proclamation will be made by the deputy mayor followed by an introduction to the new elder abuse protocol coordinator. There will also be a book reading, presentation, refreshments and entertainment.

Teaching younger generations to value and respect seniors will hopefully reduce elder abuse, says a new awareness campaign launched by a St. Albert seniors group.

The St. Albert Elder Abuse Protocol Committee has planned several events next week to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Generations Caring for Each Other” to raise awareness amongst youth about the value and worth of older adults.

For many youth, their grandparents have either passed away or do not live in the same city, explained Leanne MacMillan, committee member and community development coordinator with the city.

The group hopes that reinforcing the value of our elders will reduce ageism and in turn reduce elder abuse for the next generations.

“A large number of abuse (cases) come from stress and caregiver burnout,” says MacMillan, acknowledging that the highest reported forms of abuse are of a financial or emotional nature. In these cases it is usually another adult in the senior’s life, not their spouse or caregiver that is responsible for the abuse.

Starting on Monday, the group has organized events at local schools where a guest speaker will read the book Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox to Grades 3 and 4 students.

The story is about a little boy who helps a woman after she has lost her memory, says MacMillan, and the lengths he goes to aid her because she is so valuable to him.

Students will discuss the book after the reading.

“While there is no mention of abuse in this book – we didn't want to mention abuse for that young (age group) – we wanted to talk about why would you care for someone or make friends with (an older adult),” adds MacMillan.

Sharing experiences and learning about the challenges seniors face has taught students empathy, says Ben Huising, co-coordinator for Building Assets and Memories (BAM).

The youth group has been volunteering at Youville Home every Friday night for nearly three years. Students carpet bowl, craft and curl with the home’s residents.

“You can't go there and not have a different understanding or opinion of what it's like to be a senior,” says Huising. “I think (the youth) sometimes get more out of it than the seniors do.”

It is estimated that between four and 10 percent of older adults in Canada experience some type of abuse.

Determining the prevalence and incidence of elder abuse is difficult because of under-reporting, says MacMillan. There are also limitations in victimization surveys, police statistics and a lack of awareness about elder abuse and what constitutes it.

“Elder abuse is where family violence and spousal abuse was 30 years ago,” she says. “We're at the spot now where we are asking how often does it happen? If people don't speak up, how do we know?”


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