Elder Abuse is Wrong: Institutional Abuse or Neglect

"Who's Caring for Dad?"

Réjean tenses all over as he enters the Assisted Unit where his father lives now. His sister, Denise, had called him yesterday to say something was wrong: "Dad just seems so sleepy all the time. It can't be right. They must have him sedated most of the time."

Frail and sleeping, his father barely stirs when Réjean touches his shoulder. He's found him, sitting in his wheelchair, by the window in the sun. "They barely bother to walk him around," Denise had complained. Réjean gently lifts his father's sweater, only to flinch when he sees the raw and infected skin from where the safety belt holds him tight in his wheelchair. His head begins to pound. He knows he will have to push hard to correct this, but he has to try. He'll start by speaking to the Director of Care, but he's pretty sure that he'll be told they have no choice. Maybe a call to that new seniors' hotline would be a good place to get some ideas on how to change this.

What does it look like?

Elder abuse may take place in the home, the community or in an institution.

Older adults living in institutional care facilities may experience abuse that is a single incident of poor professional practice or part of a larger pattern of ill treatment. This may include:

  • Inadequate care and nutrition
  • Low standards of nursing care
  • Inappropriate or aggressive staff-client interactions
  • Overcrowding
  • Substandard or unsanitary living conditions
  • Misuse of physical restraints or medications
  • Ineffective policies to meet residents' needs
  • Low levels of supervision.

What can I do?

  • Talk with someone you trust
  • Call a seniors help line
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist
  • Consult a nurse or home care worker
  • Contact provincial or territorial government services. Someone there can direct you to the agency responsible for care facilities.
  • Call the police
  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

There are laws and regulations that set out standards and regulate many residential institutions. Check with your community legal clinic or health and social service agency for advice or assistance.

Date modified: