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Winnipeg Police Service


Crime Prevention > Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse | Types of Abuse | Who Are The Victims? | Who Are The Abusers? | Signs of Elder Abuse | Why It Is Not Reported | What To Do About It | Resources | Prevention

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With the aging of our population, elder abuse is a problem that is becoming more widespread and is something that all segments of society should be aware of, learn to recognize and TakeAction to prevent.

Elder abuse is:

"any deliberate action or lack of action by a person in a relationship of trust, which results in harm to an older individual."

Types of Abuse

Elder abuse includes physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, or neglect of an older person

Physical Abuse

Any action that causes physical pain, discomfort or injury, such as.

  • Slapping, kicking, shoving, pinching, hair pulling, burning, punching or causing injury with an object or weapon
  • Deliberate exposure to severe weather
  • Grabbing, shaking or rough handling when providing care
  • Unnecessary physical restraint; confinement

Sexual abuse

Any sexual contact or activity that does not involve an older individual's full understanding and consent, including.

  • Subjecting an unwilling viewer to pornographic materials
  • Exhibitionism/voyeurism or engaging in offensive verbal and non-verbal behaviours of a sexual nature
  • Engaging in physically intrusive acts such as sexualized kissing/fondling, oral/genital contact, digital penetration, vaginal/anal intercourse
  • Using the victim to produce pornographic materials, or allowing others sexual access to the older individual

Psychological abuse

Any verbal or psychological attack which provokes fear, severe mental anguish, emotional distress or anxiety and results in loss of dignity and self-esteem.  Examples of psychological abuse are.

  • Humiliation, isolation, intimidation and/or threats
  • Chronic put-downs, criticism, blaming, name-calling or infantalization
  • Inappropriate control of the older individual’s activities
  • Removal of decision-making power when the older person is still competent to make his or her own decisions

Financial abuse

Any actions, with or without the knowledge and/or consent of an older adult, which result in the loss of money, property or other possessions, such as.

  • Misuse of the older individual's money, property or other possessions through fraud, forgery or extortion
  • Theft or misuse of pension cheques and/or funds through persuasion, deceit or other forms of emotional manipulation
  • Forcing an older individual to change a will or sell personal property
  • Misuse of power of attorney, joint bank account, an older individual's credit card(s) or bank card(s)


The failure or refusal by someone who has assumed a caregiving responsibility to provide for the needs of an older adult who is unable to independently meet his or her own needs. The unintentional failure to fulfill one's caregiving obligations - without conscious or willful intent - is seen as passive neglect, while the deliberate or intentional withholding of adequate care is viewed as active neglect. Neglect includes.

  • Inadequate provision of food, water, clothing, shelter or other necessaries of life
  • Failure or refusal to provide required medications, medical treatment, personal care, other necessary services or needed aids/equipment such as walkers, eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, etc.
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Who Are The Victims?

Victims are women and men, younger seniors as well as older seniors, the healthy as well as the frail, from all income levels, racial, religious and ethno-cultural backgrounds.

  • Most victims know and trust their abusers.
  • Most are mentally competent and able to make decisions for themselves
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Who Are The Abusers?

Abusers are both men and women who are related to the victim through kinship or a position of trust.  An abuser generally is.

  • Someone who has control or influence over the older person
  • Someone who may be dependent on the older individual for financial help, a place to live, assistance with child care or emotional support
  • Someone with a history of alcohol, drug and/or gambling addiction, mental illness, chronic unemployment, financial problems or family violence
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Signs of Elder Abuse

Be aware of these signs of elder abuse:

  • Repeated incidents of unexplained physical injuries/accidents
  • Unexplained delay in seeking treatment for injuries
  • A history of hospital/doctor hopping
  • Presence of a sexually transmitted disease in a senior who is not known to be sexually active
  • Rent/mortgage/utility bills unpaid or in arrears
  • Lack of money to purchase food, clothing, medications or other necessities when income appears adequate
  • Unusual activity in the older person's bank account(s) such as a change in the frequency or amount(s) of withdrawals, withdrawals being made by bank card rather than in person, joint bank accounts opened
  • Symptoms of depression, anxiety, fearfulness, or low self-esteem
  • Withdrawal, a sense of hopelessness and resignation, thoughts of suicide  
  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene, bedsores, untreated wounds, or lack of wound dressings
  • Inappropriate use of medication, lack of needed medication(s), or over sedation
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Why Abuse Is Not Reported

  • Fear of retaliation or punishment
  • Fear of abandonment or rejection by the abuser or other family members
  • Family loyalty
  • Shame and embarrassment if the abuser is a spouse or other family member
  • Fear of placement in an institution
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What to do About It

No one deserves to be mistreated or exploited, at any age. Abuse and neglect of older adults causes harm, and in the worst situations, may cause death. Together, we can help prevent and stop elder abuse.

If you are a Victim:

If you are a victim, you should know:

  • You do not deserve to be abused.
  • You have a right to live without fear.
  • You are not to blame for the violence or threats from your abuser.
  • Abuse often gets worse over time .
  • You are not alone, there is help available .

What to do:

  • No matter what the situation, tell someone you trust what is happening to you.
  • If someone is hurting or threatening you, or if it is not safe for you where you are, call 911.
  • If you wish to report the abuse to police and you are not in immediate danger, call 204-986-6222 for non-emergency assistance.
  • Make a safety plan in case you have to leave quickly.
  • Set aside an extra set of keys, money, ID, glasses, bank card, address book, medication and important papers. Keep this outside your home in a safe place.
  • Find a safe place to go in the event of an emergency.
  • Consider obtaining a restraining order to protect yourself.
  • Seek help from a social worker, public health nurse, doctor, your clergyman or local resources .

If you know someone who is a Victim:

  • Believe the abused older person. Do this even if the abuser seems nice, or if the abuser is your friend. Do not deny or underestimate what is going on. Abuse is never acceptable and should never be ignored.
  • Listen without judging. Let the abused person know that you care and have respect for their decision-making. Listen to them first and talk to them about how you might assist.
  • Educate yourself. Realize that abuse and neglect exist in your own community.
  • Understand that leaving an abusive relationship is difficult and is often a gradual process. It can involve many steps and occurs over time. Be respectful of the abused person's decisions.
  • Encourage the person to seek support and assistance.
  • Do not confront the suspected abuser. This could put you or the victim in danger.
  • Keep regular contact among family members to help everyone become aware of changes in a parent, spouse or partner's health .

What to do:

  • If you discover a crime or dangerous situation is occurring to an older adult, call 911 if they are in immediate danger.  If the situation is not an emergency, call 204-986-6222 .
  • If you are not sure if an older person is being abused or neglected, you may wish to discuss the situation with a health professional or local resource
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  • Seniors Abuse Line: 1-888-896-7183
  • Protection for Persons in Care Office: 1-866-440-6366
    To report abuse in care facilities
    204-788-6366 in Winnipeg
  • A & O: Support Services for Older Adults: 204-956-6440
  • Elder Abuse Fact Sheets
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There are ways to protect yourself from elder abuse:

  • Stay sociable as you age and maintain and add to your network of friends and acquaintances.
  • Keep in contact with old friends and neighbors if you move in with a relative or move to a new address.
  • Develop a buddy system with a friend outside of the home. Plan for at least weekly contact and share openly with this person.
  • Ask friends to visit you often – even brief visits allow for observations of your well being.
  • Participate in community activities.
  • Have your own telephone, and post and open your own mail.
  • Arrange to have your pension cheques or other income deposited directly into your bank account.
  • Get legal advice about arrangements you can make now for possible future disability, such as powers of attorney.
  • Keep accurate records, accounts and lists of property/assets available for examination by someone you trust, as well as by the person you or the court have designated to manage your affairs.
  • Review your will periodically and do not make changes to it without careful consideration and/or discussion with a trusted family member or friend.
  • Give up control of your property or assets only when you decide you can’t manage them
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Discuss your plans with your attorney, physician or family members

If you need more information or have any questions about Elder Abuse, contact the Winnipeg Police Service Community Relations Unit at 204-986-6322 or via email or A & O: Support Services for Older Adults confidential intake line 204-956-6440.

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Last update: August 23, 2017

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