Senior Safety and Elder Abuse
Criminals often regard older persons as easy targets for many kinds of crimes. Every elderly person should be aware of these crimes and how to prevent them.
For Your Protection
Do not rush into something involving your money or property.
Be wary of something-for-nothing or get-rich-quick schemes.
Never sign a contract until you and your lawyer, banker, or other expert has thoroughly read it.
Never turn over large sums of cash to anyone, especially a stranger, no matter how promising the deal looks.
Do not hesitate to check the credentials of a salesman or public official.
Report all suspicious offers to the police immediately, before the fraudster leaves town in search of other victims.
Arrange for incoming cheques to be sent directly to your bank.
Other Crime Prevention Tips
Install good locks and always use them.
Don't leave tell-tale signs that you are away.
Never open your door to a stranger without credentials. Install a wide-angle door viewer which permits you to see callers before you open the door.
Also, leave exterior lights on at night or install motion sensitive lighting.
On the Street
Walk only in well-lit areas.
Do not burden yourself with packages and a bulky purse.
Never display large sums of money in public.
Walk near the curb and away from alleys and doorways.
In Your Car
Always lock your car after entering and whenever leaving it.
If you have car trouble, raise the hood, lock yourself in and wait for the police. If a stranger stops to offer help, do not get out of your car. Ask the stranger to call a service truck or police for you.
If you suspect someone is following, drive to the nearest public place (gas station, all-night restaurant) and blow your horn, or use your cell phone and call police.
Elder Abuse Awarenss and Prevention
Elder Abuse Hotline - 1-855-542-1336
An awareness of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse can help prevent these crimes and help to safeguard you or a loved one from harm.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse occurs when a person in a position of authority or trust harms a senior citizen. Such a person may be a member of the victim's family, a neighbor, nurse, or some other caregiver. It may also be a person in some other position of power, such as a landlord, the executor of a will, or someone with power of attorney over the victim's affairs.
Elder abuse may be physical, financial, or neglect. For example, a child or caregiver may push, hit or threaten the victim. A person with Power of Attorney may abuse their position, and use the finances for their own personal use and gain. Children may abuse their parents by endorsing a cheque without consent. Another example of elder abuse is neglect, where the victim is refused food, medical care, over-medicated, or forcibly isolated.
Reasons Why Abuse is Seldom Reported
Elder abuse is seldom identified and rarely reported to police. For this reason, it is referred to as a "hidden crime." Victims may not report incidents of abuse, because:
- They feel betrayed by the abuser, and feel ashamed of their mistreatment by family members or loved ones.
- They feel embarrassment that they are in the position of being a victim.
- They believe the police or other agencies can't help.
- They are afraid of being institutionalized.
- They are unaware of their rights.
- They are afraid of what will happen to the loved one abusing them, or what will happen to them once the person who had power over their finances or other aspects of their life is gone.
What you can do to Prevent Abuse
The Kingston Police Service will investigate and lay charges where appropriate against abusers. Victims are offered and provided with counseling and assistance. By reporting abuse, you are combating the problem.
You can also combat elder abuse before it happens, by following some of these tips and advice:
- Familiarize yourself with your spouse's tasks and responsibilities. For example, learn how to write a cheque, balance a cheque book, what bills you pay and how to read the invoices. This ensures continued independence should anything happen to your spouse.
- Learn what your rights are. Regardless of whether you're living in a private residence or an institution, it's important that you understand your rights, and ask for advice.
- Plan ahead. Ensure that a Power of Attorney exists for your finances, so that you're prepared if you ever become dependent. Before signing a Power of Attorney, check with a lawyer or public trustee.
- Make sure others can verify you're being taken care of. Try to appoint an Executor to your Will and/or someone with Power of Attorney that is accessible by other family members and all parties mentioned in the Will. This will help to ensure that others can check to see that you're being taken care of financially, and have gotten everything mentioned in the Will.
- Have pension cheques deposited directly into your bank account.
- Increase the amount of training your caregiver currently has.
- Be cautious about moving in with someone, or having someone move in with you. Consider possible problems, like lack of space, stairs, noise, loss of control, etc.
- Be cautious about permitting adult children back into your home to live (especially if those children have a history of drug, alcohol, financial or psychological problems)