June 15, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Minister of State for Seniors Brian Kenny has issued the following message in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.
The abuse and neglect of our seniors are serious issues we may not want to think about, but as shocking news reports have revealed, elder abuse is also occurring in New Brunswick.
It is not typical of just one segment of society. The abuse and neglect of our seniors is an ongoing, complex and socially unacceptable problem which cuts across all socio-economic levels and all ethnic, cultural, rural and urban populations.
It may involve physical, chemical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, or the control and neglect of an elderly person by a family member, friend, neighbour, caregiver, or any individual in a position or power, trust or authority. The abuse can take place at home, in the community or in a residential facility. It is often hidden and goes unreported, sometimes resulting in devastating situations.
As a caring society with an aging population, elder abuse is an emerging issue about which we all need to be concerned. How we treat our seniors tells of who we are as a people, and who we will become.
We should make every effort to ensure that New Brunswick residents live in a secure, nurturing environment free of abuse. Seniors, as all individuals, have basic rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to security of the person and the right to be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. Our seniors should also not experience loneliness or isolation, no matter where they live.
In our province, there are tools in place to ensure protection of our seniors. There is the Adult Protection Program under the Department of Social Development. There are also the Adult Victims of Abuse Protocols, which ensure a better co-ordination between departments and agencies within government.
We have recently launched an Adult Abuse Prevention Program for Residential Facilities. Social Development will be working with operators and staff of residential facilities to ensure that they know how to recognize and report on the indicators of abuse and neglect of disabled adults and seniors. The launch of this new program is part of our government's efforts to ensure quality care, dignity and respect for our growing senior population.
Everyone has an important responsibility to report elder abuse and neglect. Suspected cases should be reported to the closest office of Social Development or to the police so that a proper investigation and follow-up can be initiated.
Our seniors built our province, and they enrich our lives. We should do all we can to make sure that they are safe and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.