Originally published by InsideToronto Online on May 10th, 2011. To go to the InsideToronto website please click here
Getting people talking about the difficult issue of elder abuse is one of the main goals of a free health and safety clinic being held in York early next month.
As many as one in four seniors are victims of physical, mental or financial abuse, but it’s not something often talked about, according to Karen Coons.
“It has been a taboo subject,” said Coons, spokesperson for the Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA), which is hosting the clinic.
As more baby boomers enter their twilight years over the next two decades, the potential for elder abuse is likely to escalate, she said.
Fortunately, the reluctance to recognize, discuss and address the problem is beginning to change, Coons said.
For example, Julian Fantino, who served as federal minister of state for seniors before the May 2 federal election, has made statements condemning elder abuse since he was first elected last year.
For example, after an elderly Scarborough woman was found kept in a freezing garage in March, he called the situation disgusting and deplorable.
The elderly are a vulnerable group who are often targetted and victimized, said Fantino, adding the Conservatives are working against elder abuse through the federal elder abuse awareness initiative.
At the same time, seniors’ lobby group CARP urged Fantino, former Toronto police chief, to make elder abuse a specific criminal offence.
Meanwhile, ONPEA is launching a fundraising campaign called A Cup of Tea for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. The idea is to get families talking about the issue of elder abuse over a cup of tea or in other informal settings to increase awareness, Coons said.
Elder abuse is not the only issue on the agenda at the clinic. People who attend can have their blood pressure taken, discuss their prescriptions, hear about safety initiatives, find out about the benefits of massage therapy, and learn about community programs geared to seniors through several experts including officials from Toronto Fire Services and Toronto Public Health.
The free clinic will be held Friday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at York Fairbanks Centre for Seniors, 2213 Dufferin St., south of Eglinton Avenue.
Keywords: elder, abuse, healthcare, awareness