The Sparwood CRN hopes to raise awareness of elder abuse and neglect. File Photo

June 15 marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Especially in this time of COVID-19, our elders are vulnerable to abuse and neglect

Elder Abuse is a big concern, not just in B.C. but in the whole world. Enough that in 2006 The United Nations General Assembly designated June 15 of every year as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

In its declaration, The United Nations stated that this important day “represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.”

Your local Sparwood Community Response Network (CRN) honour this day each year with a free community event to raise awareness. However, this year, due to the COVID-19 outbreak we are keeping people safe by not holding a public gathering.

That does not change the fact that “older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations and still experiencing various forms of abuse and neglect,” reports Sherry Baker, executive director of the BC Association of Community Response Networks.

Social isolation has been identified as the leading contributing factor to an increase in risk. With this unprecedented time of social isolation and stresses in our world right now with COVID-19, abuse incidents are up, transition house and shelter usage is up, crisis line calls are up, domestic violence is up. Approximately 10 per cent of all senior adults will experience some form of physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse. It is also believed that abuse of seniors is significantly under reported. Tragically many will suffer in silence, in fear or in shame.

Let’s raise awareness in our community about this public health and human rights issue. If you or someone you know is faced with an abusive situation, help is available.

With complete confidentiality you can call toll free at 1-800-563-0808 or email 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Multilingual services are available in 150 languages. You can also call 1-844-870-4754 to be directed to your local health authority.

The international symbol for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is the iris with its beautiful purple colour. People are urged to wear purple on June 15 as a way of acknowledging their support to shine a light on this significant issue. At this time, more than ever, we all need to help keep our elders and community members safe and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

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