Here’s a disturbing statistic….research shows that in 2017, 1 in 6 older persons were subjected to abuse. And that was pre-pandemic, before lockdowns, mental health and social issues exacerbated an already troubling dynamic. As one of the most experienced Canadian health staffing agencies, elder care makes up a large portion of our focus at Advanced Home Care Solutions. In honour of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th, and our commitment to being part of the solution, we want to direct attention to this pervasive and all-too-common concern.
To start with, we are fighting a societal undercurrent that older people are expendable. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stresses that “Older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else. Difficult decisions around life-saving medical care must respect the human rights and dignity of all.” We have seen the global pandemic particularly impact the older population – not just by threatening their lives and safety, but their social networks, access to health services, jobs, and pensions.
Elder abuse is a growing problem that exists in both developing and developed countries, but it’s typically under-reported. When considering that by 2030, the number of persons over 60 is projected to grow from 1 billion to 1.4 billion, a huge percentage of the population will be at risk, and although the exact extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, it has serious social and moral implications.
The systems that need to be developed to define, detect, and address elder abuse may vary from one cultural setting to the next. One thing is certain, however. Unless global health care and social service sectors are given the tools and resources to identify and deal with elder abuse, it will continue to be under-reported and overlooked.
As a society, we have entered what the UN designates as the ‘Decade of Healthy Ageing’ (2021-2030). This initiative involves governments, agencies, professionals, media, academia, the private sector and civil society itself to improve the lives of older people and their families. The world needs to be a safe place in which to grow old – one which provides older people with opportunities to fulfill their potential in dignity and equality, while in a healthy environment. Some of the action areas will include:
- Age-friendly environments
- Combating ageism and stereotypes
- Integrated Care – top-quality essential health services that do not cause financial hardship
- Long-Term Care – access must offer the opportunity to enjoy basic human rights and live with dignity
Contracting the best professionals to fill community care jobs is a role that Advanced Home Care Solutions takes very seriously. We are aware that elder abuse is a growing problem that ultimately affects all of us, and steps must be taken to eliminate it. Our care providers are highly qualified, carefully vetted professionals who are passionate about health care and the ways that it enriches quality of life for our clients. We believe that change can come through elder advocacy and are committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable.