June 15, 2020, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
In anticipation of its observance, the Kootenay Community Centre Society (KCCS) shed light on how seniors are being taken advantage of.
Scams either by phone or by email are commonplace, but Nik McCready warns of more nefarious sources.
“One of the biggest ones is a lot of financial and emotional manipulation,” said the KCCS support worker. “Lying and falsifying information to get money or really ridiculous-sounding scams, usually done by family members, caretakers, caregivers, all of those titles.”
Thousands of dollars are often siphoned away before their clients learn of these tactics due to the nature of the relationships between the elders and their caregivers.
“Unfortunately a lot of the time it starts off quite small and then it turns into larger sums of money, way larger sums of money,” McCready added. “Sometimes they think it’s going towards their grandkids’ education or grandkids’ care. It adds up kind of quickly and by the time they come to talk to me, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars and now they have no savings.”
McCready says they have personally witnessed 11 such events in the past two years working at KCCS. Sums of money lost were up to $200,000.
Another main factor in the elderly being taken advantage of is the isolation they face. Without a community to talk to about current events including their own outside communications, what could be a well-known scam or fishy situation, is simply reality.
“Having them be completely alone all the time and only having two to three sources of information really restricts what they even know what’s going on around them,” said McCready.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation all over Canada and the Kootenays. McCready said seniors are feeling more isolated, now more than ever, which takes a toll on their mental health.
Programs that support greater engagement, one on one meetings and human contact or even assisted zoom meetings are just some of the solutions McCready suggests. Programs that allow seniors to go outside and promote physical activity are other tools to improve the wellness of seniors.
The newly formed Creston & District Community Resource Network Facebook page, (Creston & District CRN) page is available for all to view. McCready said they will provide an update geared for seniors on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
“On June 15th, I’m going to be sharing a lot of videos on combating elder abuse and how to raise awareness and the best things to do if you’re experiencing it, if someone you love is experiencing it… if your neighbour is experiencing it, we’ll tell them all of the steps that they can take.”