Canada is experiencing an unprecedented demographic change. It has been estimated that by 2041, one-fourth of Canada’s population will be over the age of 65. At the same time, many Canadians are living and working longer and longer. As the “baby boomer” generation moves into its senior years, elder law issues associated with this changing landscape are increasingly coming to the forefront.
Often, the victims of elder abuse and negligence cannot speak out on their own. They rely on loved ones to ensure they are receiving proper care. If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse, you may consider contacting a Mississauga elder abuse lawyer with experience acting on behalf of the elderly.
Elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.
As older adults become more physically frail, they’re less able to take care of themselves, stand up to bullying, or fight back if attacked. Mental or physical ailments can make them more trying companions for those who live with them. And they may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them.
Abuse of elders takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly, some involving neglect, and others involving financial trickery.
The most common are:
Physical abuse is when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress, or death as a result of the intentional use of physical force and includes acts such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, and burning.
Sexual abuse of an elderly person occurs when a perpetrator engages in any kind of sexual contact without the person’s consent. Some victims of sexual abuse are unable to give consent due to health conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. The laws about consent as they relate to medical conditions vary from province to province.
Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older adult. Keeping that person from seeing close friends and relatives is another form of emotional abuse.
Neglect refers to the intentional withholding of basic necessities or care (active neglect), or not providing basic necessities or care because of lack of experience, information, or ability (passive neglect). It can be due to an individual’s choice of lifestyle, depression, ill health, cognitive ability, or inability to care for self (self neglect).
Financial abuse typically involves a family member or another person whom the older adult trusts such as a friend or care provider. Financial abuse can occur when a family member or friend takes over financial decisions and control of the older adult’s money. Financial neglect occurs if a family member, friend or power of attorney controls the money but disregards the older adult’s financial obligations or does not fulfill instructions under the power of attorney.
There may be a number of different signs of elder abuse. For physical or sexual abuse, signs of elder abuse may include unexplained bruises or injuries. An abused individual may start showing different personality traits, such as becoming introverted or reserved when previously energetic and optimistic. Financial abuse may be evident through a sudden change in an estate plan, loss of funds, loss of property or problems paying bills when there were none previously.
In Canada, there is no specific crime of “elder abuse” identified in the Criminal Code. Instead, crimes committed against older people must be prosecuted under other criminal provisions, such as failing to provide the necessaries of life (s. 215), manslaughter (s. 236), assault (s. 265), sexual assault (s. 271), unlawful confinement (s. 279), uttering threats (s. 264.1), theft (s. 334), theft by power of attorney (s. 331) and fraud (s. 380). This contrasts to the U.S. approach, where many states have criminal legislation that specifically define “elder abuse” as a crime.
Under the Criminal Code (s. 718.2(a)(i)), if a person has victimized an older adult, a judge might take the age of the victim into account when making a sentencing decision. If a person who has been convicted of a crime has intentionally targeted an older adult because she was perceived to be vulnerable or weak, or victimized a community of older adults, then sentencing might be harsher.
Not all acts of elder abuse and neglect will result in a criminal prosecution or conviction. Sometimes mistreatment will require a response from an individual or community, without involving the police or criminal justice system.
We provide legal support and representation to the victims of elder abuse and neglect. We have decades of experience handling successful claims against nursing homes and personal care workers for their negligent actions. Our lawyers understand the needs of elderly clients and can support your family as you focus on recovery.
If you need assistance with any of the above, or would like to discuss what you can do to ensure that your interests are protected as you get older, contact our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers who will help you navigate the various options you have available. Our legal team has years of valuable experience in assisting individuals with these specialized legal issues.
The very first step of bringing client onboard is to have a no obligation consultation.
Then comes the evaluation of the situation. And building the case background.
After building the whole case, now is the time to fight it in the court.
As we fight the case, we keep on collecting more information to support the case.