POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 57 A very real social problem, abuse of older adults is a very complex issue and may involve physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, neglect, financial abuse, violation of rights, and sexual assault. Any senior can be abused, despite her or his age, living arrangements or conditions, physical or mental health, sexual orientation, financial status, education, culture, or social status. 1. What is senior abuse? The Nova Scotia Elder Abuse Strategy: Toward Awareness and Prevention(2005) states “elder abuse is the infliction of harm on an older person”. Abuse is any act or failure to act that endangers the health and/or well being of the older person. Such action or inaction is especially harmful when it occurs within a relationship where there is an expectation of trust. Abuse may be: Physical - inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain, injury, or discomfort on an older adult. Sexual - any form of sexual activity with a person without the consent of that person. Emotional / Psychological - inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an older person through verbal or nonverbal acts. Financial - the unethical or illegal misuse of the money, property, or other assets of an older adult, including placing inappropriate pressure on an older person in order to gain access to her or his assets. Violation of Human / Civil Rights - the unlawful or unreasonable denial of fundamental rights and freedoms normally enjoyed by adults. Neglect - the failure to provide the necessities of life such as proper food, fluids, suitable clothing, a safe and sanitary place of shelter, proper medical attention, personal care, and necessary supervision. There are several forms of neglect, including active neglect, passive neglect, self-neglect, and abandonment. Much abuse occurs within relationships where there is an expectation of trust. Some of these relationships include: • in a family, • between a husband and a wife, • between friends, • between an older adult and someone they rely on such as an accountant, care worker, or other paid person, • when someone is providing services in an older adult’s home. Not all abuse is a result of individual action and not all abuse occurs within a personal relationship. Sometimes older adults are targeted because the abusers think they will be easier targets. Sometimes abuse is a result of how older people are treated at a societal level. Systemic abuse, for example, can happen when policies or practices take away a person’s independence and dignity. This sometimes happens when other people are making decisions for the older person and may be rooted in ageism (see Question #2 - What causes senior abuse?). 2. What causes senior abuse? The causes of senior abuse are extremely complex. Abuse generally does not occur because of only one About Senior Abuse Continued Department of Seniors Goverment of Nova Scotia