On June 15th, our employees and people all across the world will wear purple to acknowledge World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue.
The rate of police-reported violence against seniors is increasing. In 2009, the Department of Justice Canada stated that seven percent of seniors reported some form of emotional or financial abuse and that the actual numbers are likely much higher as incidents of abuse often go unreported.
This needs to change and, according to the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, it starts with breaking down the stigmas that surround aging.
At Interior Savings, we’re taking a stand. In 2016, we announced our official certification as an Age Friendly Business – a first for financial institutions in BC. The program, developed by the Age Friendly Business Academy, provided training for all 500 of our employees to raise awareness about some of the key and sometimes subtle challenges associated with getting older and to better prepare staff to offer an exceptional experience to their members. Our hope is that by talking about it, we’ll spark others to take action too.
What can you do?
- Go beyond the stereotypes. A label like “elderly” or “senior” does a poor job of describing a person. Labels to not tell us about the person’s capacity for friendship or creativity or accomplishment. We de-personalize older adults by referring to them generically as “the elderly” or “our seniors”.
- Recognize people as individuals.
- Acknowledge things that limit a person’s abilities, but also recognize ways in which the person is not limited.
- Learn more about positive aging. The better informed we are about aging and what to expect, the better able we are to evaluate and resist many of the inaccurate and negative stereotypes of aging.
- Get informed about physical, mental, social, sexual and financial health for older adults.
- Promote positive attitudes about aging and about contributions of older adults to our society.
- Build intergenerational bridges. People who don’t have contact with others who are older or younger than themselves are more likely to believe the negative stereotypes.
- Reach out. Meet people of all ages and experiences.
- Share stories, ideas, and skills – one-to-one and in groups. We all have things to teach and learn.
- Embrace common causes that widen your circle and strengthen your community.
For more information on prevention of elder abuse, go to the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.