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  Help Stop Elder Abuse

Sep 22, 2008 14:32 ET

Although crimes against any person are wrong, crimes against societies most vulnerable are especially disturbing. Elder abuse is a growing problem in our communities and DRPS is working to eliminate the financial, physical and emotional abuse many older people are facing.

Det. John Keating of 17 Division (Oshawa) is leading the charge when it comes to protecting the elderly. He works to educate and empower seniors and community partners with information on how to recognize and deal with potentially abusive situations.

It’s estimated that 80 per cent of abuse suffered by the elderly is financial. ”The majority of financial abuse is carried out by a family member or person of trust. Unfortunately it often goes unreported because the elderly person may be ashamed or embarrassed that someone they trust stole from them, or no one is aware it has taken place at all,” Set. Keating says. In addition to family members there are also many scam artists out there who prey on the elderly and they need to understand their right to refuse. Sometimes it’s as simple as encouraging them to just say no. He also deals with those suffering from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect, and he receives several phone calls a day from seniors and other agencies asking for advice.

Det. Keating has also worked to improve the comfort level seniors have when contacting police. “There is now specific person to contact when they call police and they no longer get bumped around. It has really improved relations with the seniors and other community partners,” says Det. Keating.

Other initiatives DRP is working on include improving the comfort of seniors when an officer has to attend their residence and while making a statement at the police station. Because of the generation gap, many feel uncomfortable or even embarrassed if a cruiser pulls up to their home and DRP is looking at ways to better approach this. Similarly, many of them have never been to a police station and may be intimidated by the process. A room has been set up at Oshawa Senior Citizen Centre where statements can be taken in a more pleasing environment.

Det. Keating also belongs to several organizations that assist seniors including the Durham Elder Abuse Network (DEAN) and Law Enforcement Agencies Protecting Seniors (LEAPS). He has been invited to make presentations at several meetings and forums. By the year 2029 it’s expected 25 per cent of the population will be of senior age and DRP is working to support this growth. In the coming months the position of Senior Support Co-ordinator will be created at DRP to further protect the interests of our seniors. “All of our seniors deserve to live with dignity and respect, it’s up to the police, the community and society in general to make sure they have it,” says Det. Keating.

Some signs of abuse to look for:
• Depression, fear, anxiety, passivity
• Unexplained physical injuries
• Dehydration or lack of food
• Poor hygiene, rashes, pressure sores
• Over sedation

If you need further advice or information about elder abuse contact Det. Keating at (905) 579-1520 ext. 2764 or at jkeating@drps.ca.

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