Legal Definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect
In Canada the richest source of legal definitions is policy. Criminal legislation does not define elder abuse. Reoccurring themes in court decisions involving older adult victims include an emphasis on dependency and breach of trust, as well as mention of frailty and a vulnerability to age-specific harms, such as a loss of the capacity to live independently. This language hints at aspects of the legal definition of elder abuse in Canada.
The term vulnerability is reflected in adult guardianship legislation which often uses the concept of "vulnerable adult" to frame its scope of application. The expression "elder abuse" is not used in provincial legislation. Rather, abuse is defined in statutes that address a larger or smaller community of victims, such as vulnerable adults, victims of domestic violence, care facility residents, neglect adults, and adults who are abused. Most of these statutes approach a definition by listing types of abuse (such as physical, psychological, or sexual abuse).
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