Elder abuse reporting on the rise; “We’re aware it’s a problem and it is not okay”: Sim

Colleen Sim of Victims Services Sarnia-Lambton adjust a purple tie for co-worker Danielle St. Germain. The ties and scarves are to bring awareness to Elder Abuse Awareness Day today.

Colleen Sim of Victims Services Sarnia-Lambton adjust a purple tie for co-worker Danielle St. Germain. The ties and scarves are to bring awareness to Elder Abuse Awareness Day today.

The head of Victims Services Sarnia-Lambton says more people are recognizing the signs of elder abuse and doing something about it.

June is Elder Abuse Awareness month and today, Victims Services and the Sarnia Lambton Elder Abuse Awareness Network is urging people across the county to wear something purple in support of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Colleen Sim says it is a problem which is gaining increasing attention. It is estimated that nearly 60,000 seniors are at risk of being abused each year. And Sim says in the last few years there have been some horrific cases of elder abuse in the community, including the attempted murder of an elderly woman. Her son was charged in the case.

But Sim says police increasingly see seniors losing money through financial schemes including on-line dating traps. “We’re seeing people losing their houses because of elder abuse, because of financial scams. For a lot of seniors, that house is their savings. It is sad, so sad because you can’t fix it for them.”

Sim says it is not surprising seniors are more vulnerable than others. “As people age, they rely more and more on people to help them, so they are more vulnerable,” says Sim. “If there is only person who brings you to the bathroom or brings you food and that person is abusing you, you don’t have a lot of choice.”

And while abuse of the elderly has been a problem for years, Sim says society is turning a corner in reporting problems, just as it did with domestic and child abuse. “We’re aware it is a problem and it is not okay.”

Sim says often people call Victims Services with their concerns and Sim and her staff direct them to police if a crime is committed. They also help find support services for the victims. “The early people get involved when they see things starting, the easier it is to stop it.”

The Sarnia Lambton Elder Abuse Awareness Network will be at the Lambton Mall on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day talking about the problem in the community and offering small purple ribbon pins for a donation.

 

– Heather Wright

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