by Delaney Windigo
Elder abuse training programs associated with awareness and awareness campaigns are now being funded in the province. The University of Regina’s Centre for Continuing Education has received a $194,980 grant to fund elder abuse programs through the Seniors Education Centre. The grant will be provided by the department of Human Resources Skills and Development Canada over a period of 34 months.
The assistant director of the Centre for Continuing Education, Kathryn Buitenhuis said the centre has been petitioning for these funds for a couple of years.
“The contribution from HRSDC is to fund the development of a training program associated with bringing awareness and awareness campaigns to the population of Saskatchewan,” said Buitenhuis.
The program will not treat elder abuse but will provide awareness so people can learn what to look for if abuse is taking place, Buitenhuis explained.
The seniors will give their input into the program.
“It's not academics and researchers trying to figure out what's needed, it's the community of interest themselves are taking leadership through focus groups and being part of the program to assist us in coming up with the best kind of awareness program,” said Buitenhuis.
The program will consist of three phases. The first is to develop training workshops for interested seniors to be able to conduct the awareness program. The second part is the awareness program itself, which will be delivered to health professionals, police officers, seniors' home care individuals, retirement planners, churches and libraries.
“This is bringing awareness to them of what to look for, what are the signals and signs that there may be elder abuse taking place,” said Buitenhuis.
Elder abuse can take place in various forms. The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as, “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring in any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person.”
“There's different types of abuse it can be anything from financial abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse or neglect,” said Buitenhuis
For example financial abuse might include unexplained withdrawals from their financial institution, missing money or valuables, she said.
Buitenhuis said that three quarters of fraud under the value of $5000 occurs in individuals over 60. Seniors Education Centre has anecdotal data on other types of abuse.
Physical or emotional abuse may show signs of “fear, withdrawal, anxiety, and unexplained physical injuries, signs of malnutrition or dehydration, changes in personality or personal hygiene or grooming.”
However, a lot of elder abuse may go unreported. “They may not report due to shame or fear,” said Buitenhuis “(elders) are often afraid to report it, that's why it's important to have others in the community looking for those signs and signals so that action can be taken.”
The third and final phase of the program will include an evaluation process to see how effective the program was.