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Abuse & Neglect of Older Adults in the Maritimes

Abuse and neglect of older adults is a health and social problem with profound consequences that affects people from all walks of life. The population world-wide is aging; “seniors make up the fastest growing age group, a trend that is expected to continue for the next few decades” (Statistics Canada, 2011). Therefore, we find a growing concern about the real and potential for increased abuse and neglect of older adults.

Various studies indicate that between 4 and 8% of older adults in Canada (or approximately 157,000 to 393,000) are likely to experience one or more forms of abuse or neglect at some time” (An Environmental Scan of Abuse and Neglect of Older: What’s Working and Why: 2003).

According to the World Health Organization, the abuse and neglect of an older adult can be defined as: a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. ( Abuse can involve family members, intimate partners, friends, caregivers, and professionals. Common types of abuse include psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as (intentional or unintentional) neglect and violation of a person’s rights as an adult (Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, n.d; World Health Organization, n.d; Podnieks, 2008). Depending on the environment, some older people may be at a higher risk of being affected by violence, such as older people and disabilities. More older women are abused than older men. This may reflect the greater proportion of women among the older adult population or other factors such as ageism, sexism, lower social status, poorer health of older adults, and fewer personal resources (An Environmental Scan of Abuse and Neglect of Older: What’s Working and Why: 2003).

The purpose and goals of the research team involves multi-pronged activities in order to expand our knowledge of where we are in our understanding of what is the Big Picture in the Maritime Provinces on the issues of abuse and neglect of older adults, with a focus on abuse and neglect of older women. The Project Team will conduct an Environmental Scan to collect information about what is happening in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on the issue of abuse of older people in general but more specifically in trying to understand the lived reality of abused older women. In order to gather that information, an online survey was developed and it was launched at the public event on June 25, 2015 entitled A day of reflection - Gendered Lens of Abuse of Older Adults.

On that day, we discussed how older adults more specifically abused older women are impacted by violence and neglect in their lives. Together we looked at gaps and challenges and discussed the importance of having a gendered community response to respond and prevent violence of older people as women are more at risk of being abused. It is with the input of all participants that the research team will be developing their future research agenda

Members of the Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults Research Team

- Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, Academic Coordinator, Research Chair in Population Aging CNFS-Université de Moncton
- Danie Gagnon, Community Coordinator, New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes Inc

- Colleen MacQuarrie, Department of Psychology, UPEI
- Lori Weeks, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University
- Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, PhD, RN, Research Chair in Population Aging CNFS-Université de Moncton
- Danie Gagnon, Project Manager, New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes Inc.
- Jean-Luc Bélanger, Executive Director, Association francophone des aînés du N.-B.
- Ginette-Marie Leblanc, Consultant, Long Term Care & Disability Support Services (Unit), Social Development
- Shelley Murray, Violence Prevention and Community Partnerships/Women's Equality Branch
- Annie Ricket, Registrar, New Brunswick Association of Social Workers
- Rina Arseneault, Associate Director, Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, UNB