SENIORS HEALTH: Help close at hand

Elder abuse comes in many forms; resources available throughout the community to offer support.

  • May. 26, 2015 5:00 p.m.

The Seniors Health Network each month poses a question to a health-care professional.

In time for Elder Abuse Awareness Month, which starts next week, the BC Association of Community Response Networks was asked:

My grandson is a lovely boy but always seems to be short of money. He often comes over and asks for any cash I have in the house, so I’ve stopped keeping much money around. He gets very angry when I can’t give him money. Should I talk to his parents?

Louise Tremblay from Community Response Networks says:

No one should force you to give a gift, if you do not wish to do so.

If you are faced with anger when you refuse to give your grandson money, you are a victim of financial and emotional abuse.

Financial abuse is the predominant type of abuse in older adults. Financial abuse occurs when someone pressures you to give money, or takes your money or other assets against your will or knowledge.

Emotional abuse is often used in conjunction with financial abuse. With emotional abuse, a person resorts to intimidation, humiliation, manipulation and other tactics aimed at getting his/her way.

Why financial and emotional abuse happens is a complex phenomenon that can be influenced by family dynamics.

Perhaps you gave money in the past for birthdays and holidays to a member of your family, and that person still expects to receive these gifts and asks for them.

Or perhaps a member of your family has access to your bank account to help you with your finances and takes money for him/herself in the process. Or it could be that your culture enables the entitlement of family members over your finances while you’re still alive.

Regardless of the causes, financial or any other types of abuse is not OK.

Financial abuse is stressful and affects your well-being and physical health.

It leaves you with negative feelings, such as sadness, depression, helplessness, dependency, humiliation, worthlessness and anger.

In addition to emotional harm, financial abuse can be manifested through adverse medical conditions.

You can prevent or stop financial and emotional abuse through good communication.

If you have a trusting relationship with your grandson’s parents, it may be a good idea to approach them and talk about ways to prevent future occurrences.

Alternatively, you may seek the help of someone who will believe you and listen to you.

This person should be non-judgmental and supportive of your choices in dealing with the situation.

You can also access other support systems in your community by contacting agencies concerned with the prevention of abuse in older adults:

• If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.

• For health related questions, call 811.

• To talk to someone about abuse, call 211.

• For the Seniors Abuse and Info Line (SAIL), call 604-437-1940 or 1-866-437-1940.

• Fraser Health is the designated agency responsible to investigate adult abuse. You can reach a representative at 1-877-REACT-08 (1-877-732-2808).

• Community Living BC (604-501-8310) provides services to adults with developmental disabilities and is also a designated agency responsible to investigate reports of abuse.

• For more information, visit www.fraserhealth.ca/find_us/services/our_services?&program_id=8617 or http://www.bccrns.ca

Louise Tremblay is a regional mentor with the BC Association of Community Response Networks, an agency concerned with the prevention of abuse, neglect and self-neglect of adults.

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a community-based coalition of multiple seniors service providers led by Dr. Grace Park and working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock. If you have a question to be considered for publication, please email seniorshealthnetworksswr@gmail.com