text size:

Senior Support Unit

Items of Interest  |   Contact Us

The Durham Regional Police Victim Services Unit recognizes that Elder Abuse is often referred to as ‘The Hidden Crime’ and is a growing concern within our region. It is not often talked about and may not be easily recognized.

What is it?

Elder abuse is defined by someone within a relationship who is trusted causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual and financial. It most cases more then one form of abuse occurs at the same time. This abuse usually happens because the abuser wants to feel powerful and in control of the elder. The abuser could be a family member, a friend or a service worker. Many will feel ashamed or fearful and do not talk about the abuse to anyone.

Forms of Abuse

Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse. This could be misuse of money or household goods like jewelry. The abuser will sometimes use other forms of abuse like isolation from family and friends to take advantage of the situation. Signs of financial abuse include: an elders home being sold unexpectedly, large sums of money taken from a bank account and an elder is in debt and does not know why.

Any pain or injury that is inflicted on an elder by a person is considered abuse. Warning signs of this abuse should be when an elder does not have an explanation for injuries or they have frequent injuries. This includes: hitting, slapping, pinching, pushing, burning, pulling hair, shaking, physical restrain, physical coercion, forced feeling or withholding physical necessities.

Sexual abuse is threats or force of a person without consent. It includes: rape, sexual harassment, fondling and inappropriate sexual comments.

Psychological (emotional)
This form of abuse inflicts mental anguish on an individual. It could be making the elder fearful of violence or isolation. Psychological abuse includes: yelling, ignoring the person, scolding, shouting, insulting, threatening, humiliation, isolation and control. This abuse can result in the elder having low self-esteem, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal, fearfulness, and significant change in weight.

Any form of verbal communication of a belittling or degrading nature which may diminish a seniors sends of well-being, dignity or self-worth.

Prevention of Elder Abuse for Yourself
• Keep yourself busy by joining a club of interest, go out with friends and volunteer.
• Have a good relationship with friends and family. Keep in touch as much as possible.
• Have any cheques that you may receive go directly into your bank account.
• Keep educated and attend seminars on elder abuse to know your rights.

Preventing Abuse of Elders
• Educate yourself on the rights of elders by attending seminars or joining a committee.
• Explain the rights to elders.
• Take the time to speak to elders about their current situation and listen carefully to what they have to say.

The Durham Elder Abuse Network is a nonprofit organization that strives to be leaders in the development of an integrated and collaborative strategy to address the prevention of elder abuse in Durham Region through networking, information sharing, raising awareness and advocacy. DEAN uses fundraising money to help low income seniors who have been victims of abuse or crime as well as sponsoring educational opportunities including sending some police officers to conferences on Elder Abuse. Please visit their website at "" for further information.