World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) shines a light on the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. June 15th is the day that provides a gentle reminder to acknowledge the wisdom and worth of our elders.
Elizabeth** is a vibrant 72-year-old woman who faced her fair share of challenges. Like many other older adults, Elizabeth had experienced the harsh realities of ageism—the prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes that often accompany growing older. These negative perceptions left her feeling excluded and limited, creating an environment where elder abuse could flourish.
Elizabeth’s journey took a dark turn when she found herself living with her daughter and son-in-law. Over time, her daughter convinced her to sign a Power of Attorney, gaining control over Elizabeth’s life and resulting in her daughter taking away her identification, accessing her bank accounts, and claiming that Elizabeth was incapable of managing her own affairs.
However, fate had a different plan for Elizabeth. A few weeks ago, she was referred to the Seniors Services Society of BC. They listened to her story of abuse and offered their unwavering support. Elizabeth’s resilience became evident when, during a hospital visit, she managed to undergo cognitive tests that would change the course of her life. The results were crystal clear—she was fully capable of managing her own affairs with no signs of dementia.
Emboldened by this knowledge, Elizabeth knew she deserved better. She refused to return to the toxic environment she had endured for far too long. With the guidance of the dedicated workers at the safe house and the protection of the police, she reclaimed her identity. One by one, her stolen belongings were returned to her—the ID representing her independence and access to her hard-earned funds.
Elizabeth’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. She emerged from the shadows of abuse as a survivor. She now stands as a beacon of inspiration for all those who have faced or continue to face similar challenges.
In our collective desire for a just and compassionate society, we must recognize that the way we perceive and portray older people holds tremendous power. Our attitudes shape the environment in which elder abuse can take root. Let Elizabeth’s story remind us of the importance of treating one another with fairness, respect, and dignity, regardless of age.
On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let us renew our commitment to protecting the rights of older individuals, ensuring they have the safe and supportive environment they deserve.
What can YOU do?
Make Elder Abuse prevention a top priority, make our communities age-friendly, and educate everyone in New Westminster to learn and recognize the signs of elder abuse. Read the 2023 WEAAD Proclamation and join us in our stand against ageism.
#pledgetoendageism #RightsDoNotGetOld #WEAAD2023
**Names have been altered to protect the identity of our clients.