Wednesday, May 4, 2011

National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) study on elder abuse

Now, I have worked with quite a number of people in the senior health field. I have worked with a number of seniors in their homes, in long-term care, supportive living facilities, and in retirement homes. I've attended workshops, caregiver support groups, and run a Family Council in a long-term care home.

I have yet to see one case of abuse.
That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but I do feel that there are media exaggerations about the number of cases IN CANADA. I've heard and written about financial abuse, 
read the newspaper stories, and the convictions. I've written about the signs of abuse.

I've heard and seen elders abusing care staff. I seen evidence of failing seniors self-abusing, neglecting their own care, unable to meet their financial, emotional, physical, spiritual needs. I've heard several cases of senior abuse in the news, but it far exceeds the published figures of between 4 - 10%.

This is what I know for sure:

I believe that self-abuse results in self-neglect. It result in seniors living at home, in filth or squalor, in conditions that you would not wish on anyone. Yet, this is their decision.
Some are taken advantage of by family members, others are thinking this is true, but they don't know that they are unable to handle finances, house cleaning, house repairs, or healthy eating. Others phone family members at all hours, due to emotional issues, or because they fall, and expect a loved one (usually a daughter) to come to their rescue.

They would prefer living in their own home

  • unable to fix the roof, 
  • cook healthy, nutritional meals, 
  • do their banking,
  • feed and exercise pets,
  • care for older, failing, ill parents.
This they would rather, instead of living in a long-term care, or a supportive living environment where they are institutionalized. No one wants to admit that they have a problem. I have heard many family members; adult children, spouses bemoaning the fact that their loved ones refuse to move into any type of supportive living. I know of many who bribe, lie, cajole, and trick ailing seniors into giving up their car keys, or getting extra help.  One family, with money, told their loved one that the home care was 'free', when it was paid for by an over age 60 nephew with money to spare.

If anyone thinks any differently, then you only need to talk to those who work with municipalities, in small towns, with those who support seniors in their homes. Read the caregiving blogs and support groups. They constantly complain that elder parents (usually a mother with dementia) have called an agency complaining about abuse.

NICE is carrying out a study on financial, social, emotional, physical abuse of seniors. And I think it high time. The speculation on the number of cases ought to be explored. Rather than spending inordinate amounts of money on solutions, let us put that money into Home Care, friendly visitors, transportation for seniors, visiting nurses, and other Community Home Support services.

The very fact that NICE cannot find enough people to participate is a sign.

Older adults may now call and sign up TOLL FREE at 1-855-618-3286  

Older adults (55+) from across Canada are invited to participate in a research study about their personal safety and experiences with mistreatment (abuse and neglect).

How you can help:
We need 300 older adults to sign up within the next four weeks - any assistance you can provide would be appreciated! Some ways you can help are to: 
  • Spread the word by printing our Recruitment Poster and putting it up in your organization, community centre, or other local meeting places.   
  • Share our Recruitment Flyer with older adult friends, clients, colleagues or family members - ask people you know to pass it along as well!  
  • Talk about this study - give voice to the importance of addressing the issue of mistreatment of older adults.    
This study is funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and based at the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) at the University of Toronto.   

Questions about the project may be directed to theRecruitment AssistantProject Coordinator, or the Principal Investigators.     


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