Elder abuse: what to do?


Need help? Elders who are victims of abuse, or the witnesses of such abuse, can contact the Elder Mistreatment Helpline by dialing 1-888-489-2287 or by calling 9-1-1

Mistreatement of the elderly infuriates Terry Pomerantz

In 2019, the Survey on Elder Abuse in Quebec revealed that close to 80,000 elderly people were victims of mistreatment.

“And for two years now, the COVID pandemic has only served to make things worse. COVID has made it apparent to us, to what extent our society has neglected its elderly. Parked in CHSLD, far from our eyes, the elderly had literally disappeared. And in April of 2021, they suddenly reappeared, incredibly desperate and suffering deeply. Too many have died alone. Never again! Dear God, never again!” cries Terry Pomerantz. 

Elderly man covering his face with his hands suffering from problems

What types of abuse are the elderly victims of?

Different situations of elderly mistreatment or abuse can be associated to one or several of the 7 types cited here below:

  • Psychological abuse. This refers to words or actions that damage a person’s integrity. Emotional blackmail, humiliation, indifference and threats are all part of this category.
  • Physical abuse. Rushing, shoving, pushing, force feeding, refusing to help an elderly with his/her physical hygiene are all considered violent actions towards an elder.
  • Sexual abuse. Intimacy deprivation, refusing to recognize gender in an elderly person, forcing an elder to live in promiscuity are all considered sexual abuse.
  • Financial and material abuse translates into pressuring an elder into modifying a will, accessing bank accounts and doing banking transactions without the person’s consent, as well as identity theft.
  • Organizational abuse. Refers to offering services that are unsuitable to the person’s needs, having an organizational capacity that is reduced or insufficient, as well as personnel that is not properly train or mobilized.
  • Ageism manifests when restrictions are imposed on a person due to their age, or is a victim of prejudice or contempt because of age.
  • Violation of rights manifests when we take away the elder’s right to vote, have intimacy, take risks, and receive telephone calls or visits.
Elderly man holding his head, suffering from psychological problems

What are the consequences of abuse on the elderly?

“There is no such thing as “small” abuse or abusive action towards an elder. Each action has consequences, often much graver than we can comprehend or suspect”, adds Terry Pomerantz.

Amongst the consequences inflicted by actions that don’t “seem to be so bad”, anxiety, insecurity, withdrawal and inward-looking attitudes, and the apparition of suicidal thoughts too often lead to the aggravation of the illnesses that these people suffer from. “This is not something we should be doing to those who have given us life, to those who have worked so hard to build this world of abundance in which we are lucky enough to be living in today” concludes Terry Pomerantz. 

How do we prevent abuse on the elderly?

An elder person can protect him/herself from mistreatment in several ways. The main way is, without a doubt, independence. 

In order to maintain their independence, as much as possible, our elders can take care of their own healthcare and control their financial heritage. Let’s remember that financial exploitation is the most common form of abuse towards the elderly.

In order to maintain financial independence, it is recommended that the elderly protect their financial information by keeping it in a safe environment, to never give away their passwords and to beware of possible frauds. In order to avoid unnecessary travel, elders can do all of their banking transactions by phone or through the internet, and subscribe to direct deposit or automatic payments.

Elderly woman at home using her laptop to check her direct deposit

Be careful! Make sure that phone numbers and websites through which you are doing your banking transactions are all trustworthy.

As a last resort, an elderly person can leave the management of their assets in the hands of a trusted individual, who is financially independent and able to manage another person’s assets. 

We, children, have the responsibility of helping our parents remain independent and autonomous for as long as it is possible for them to do so. Let’s help them learn how to use technology, home assistance and safety services like fall detectors and so on. 

Together for the future of our elders

“In each moment, members of the Pomerantz foundation keep in mind that, the children we raise today will evolve and grow into adults, parents, and elders themselves. It wouldn’t be right for them if the society that they are building, is as ungrateful towards them as our society –the one we have built- is towards its elders. My father Saül and my mother Alice taught me that there is a solution to every problem. So, let’s all work together so that in Quebec, we manage to eradicate elder abuse completely!” concludes Terry Pomerantz, who supports over 30 organisms that come to the aid of children in need. 

Selective shot of a young person holding the hand of an older person in order to provide support

Entrepreneur and prominent figure in Montreal's real estate and manufacturing sectors, Terry Pomerantz approaches every aspect of life with heart and character. At the helm of Domfoam and T.R.A.M.S Property Management, he carries on his late father's legacy while dedicating his philanthropic commitment to the Pomerantz Foundation, which has been actively supporting children's causes since 1991.