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IFA Virtual Town Hall Chat Summary 19 June 2020

The following chat summary is from the IFA Virtual Town Hall on 19 June 2020 with Ms. Kimberly Whaley, sharing on preventing and protecting against elder abuse.


Key Resources


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Balancing Safety and Autonomy

  • Important to consider balancing policies and protocols during COVID-19 that protect older people without infringing upon autonomy, especially for those living at home.
  • In the United Kingdom the visibility of older people is now almost zero given the instructions to self isolate. Could reduced visibility lead to increased levels of abuse against older people, and how could this be prevented?
  • Care givers of older people may impose behavioural restrictions to protect the individual under their care, but what is a reasonable limit to their authority?


Abusive Relationships

  • Societal neglect of the issues affecting older people and negative media narratives (ageism) could also be considered forms of elder abuse.
  • In light of the pandemic many adult children moved into their parents’ homes and the parents now need to pay increased bills and are competing for space in their own homes. They feel unable to articulate this issue to their adult children who appear to be unaware they may be taking advantage of their parent.


Legal Instruments Against Abuse

  • There may be criminal and civil legal remedies that can be pursued in cases of elder abuse, but education of responders (law enforcement, social workers, etc.) is required to increase their awareness.
  • In Ireland there is legislation (Assisted Decision Making 2015) which moves away from the legal binary system of capacity, but this is not yet enforced due to legal administrative challenges.
  • Institutions are sometimes used to perpetrate scams (i.e. fraudulent phone calls claiming to be from Revenue Canada). Should there be an obligation for such agencies to actively assist in defeating this type of fraud?
  • In Toronto there is no mandatory reporting of abuse if the person is living in the their own home and community. Police being called to the home may not deal with family disputes when there is clearly emotional and financial abuse by family members, and this is a persisting gap.
  • It may be better if social workers or public health officials responded to family disputes instead of the police.
  • There is interest in learning more about engagement with the Toronto Police Service Community Advisory Committee around issues affecting older people, including the terms of reference and how it was established.
  • Victims of elder abuse can obtain a protection order from the court of law in Mauritius. (Protection of Elderly Act 2005)


Multisectoral Collaboration

  • This year the United Nations Day of Older Persons is about health equality; elder abuse is a health issue and should be added to the agenda. Having one key message/campaign promoted among different sectors internationally could have a significant impact.
  • Regarding the need for legislation and not just regulations, perhaps an international convention for the rights of older persons would be helpful and could be developed in the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.
  • Are there data on abuse from a lifespan perspective, for instance linking those who abuse their children, and/or spouses to elder abuse?
  • In Ohio, there is a link between those who abuse animals and those who abuse older people.
  • Many people living in the community may not be connected to an organization or social worker. Families may call the police to deal with abuse but more training and resources are needed for police to make referrals to organizations that have elder abuse expertise. In Toronto there is only one safe home for older persons called Pat’s Place which is run by Family Service Toronto. For a city of this size, this is not enough. New York and Calgary (Kerby Centre) have wonderful safe houses with teams, social workers, support etc.
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