A campaign to shed light on and stop elderly abuse both locally and around the world paid a recent visit to Leamington.
Sun Parlour Home welcomed a list of guest speakers to honour Wednesday, June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an occasion that was also marked with the planting of a tree. The tree was donated by Ruthven Nursery and planted near the facility’s main entrance in recognition of the annual, worldwide event, established as an official United Nations International Day.
Guest speakers for the event included Windsor Police Service victims assistance unit coordinator Patti Kelly, who took on the roll of emcee for the stop in Leamington. Others included Family Services Windsor Essex social work lead Tatum Dault, Essex County warden Tom Bain, Leamington deputy mayor Hilda MacDonald, Caldwell First Nation chief Louise Hillier and Ontario Provincial Police Leamington-Kingsville-Essex operations manager Staff Sargent Stue Bertram.
Dault started by thanking SPH and its team led by administrator Lynda Monik for hosting the awareness celebration. In previous years, the annual event took place at host sites within Windsor, Essex, LaSalle and Belle River.
“As far as I’m concerned, there doesn’t need to be any abuse of any kind whatsoever towards our elderly,” Bain said. “We should be thanking them for their leadership over the years.”
The international effort to expand awareness on the issue of elderly abuse had an impact on many guests before they left Sun Parlour Home during the Wednesday ceremony.
“I was quite taken aback when I read the literature on elderly abuse, finding out that one in 10 seniors is being abused,” said MacDonald. “It’s just an incredible statistic. And today rather than being an elder abuse recognition day, we should be celebrating our elders.”
While speaking to guests of the local event, Hillier noted that awareness should not only include recognition of instances of elderly abuse, but also appreciation of their contributions and continued importance to younger generations.
“When we speak about elders in our culture, we speak of them only with reverence,” Hillier noted. “They are the keepers of our knowledge, our past history, they are the keepers of our genealogy, they are the keepers of past practices, they are the keepers of the languages, the songs, the customs, the ceremony.”
During his turn at the microphone, Bertram noted that seniors are often left vulnerable to predators through advancing technology, explaining that measures must be taken to help protect them financially as well as physically. Dault later backed Bertram’s statements, explaining that of the various types of abuse suffered by seniors, financial abuse is the most prevalent.
Kelly explained that the awareness campaign in part is set out to encourage people to report suspected senior abuse to the police when there is a physical threat or emergency or to Family Services (519-966-5010) if there is reason to believe a senior is suffering from neglect or being taken advantage of financially. The campaign has run in different forms for several years, starting locally with partnership organizations that have coordinated a network of services since 1989. Funding has been provided through the Ontario Ministry of Health starting in 2000.
“I think the campaign is catching people’s attention,” said Kelly. “They struggle with the idea, but it does happen. We want them to know that services do exist.”