Elder Abuse

Law

Elder abuse is an action or lack of action which causes harm to the safety, health, or well-being of an older adult. See the sections below for information about:

  • What elder abuse looks like
  • Why elder abuse happens
  • How elder abuse is different from other types of abuse
  • Different types of elder abuse (including physical abuse, medication abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse)
  • Elder abuse in care facilities, and legal requirements for reporting elder abuse
  • Things you can do to prevent elder abuse before it happens
  • How to get help if you or someone you know is a victim of elder abuse

Choose the Process tab above for steps you can take if you or someone you know is being abused.

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here

Last Reviewed: June 2017
How to be safe on the internet

It is helpful to know how to look at things on the internet safely. You might not want someone else to see what you are looking at. Or you might want to learn how to delete your internet history, which shows which sites you have looked at. You might also not feel safe looking at elder abuse information, especially if you are in an abusive relationship and are afraid of your abuser. 

For instructions on how to look at things on the internet safely and how to delete your browser history, see the Safe Browsing page.

For more information and tips about how to be safe on the internet, see the following resources.

Web Safe Browsing Tips: Computer, Phone and Tablet
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Protecting Your Email
domesticshelters.org
English

How to be safe on the phone

It is also helpful to know how to be safe when using the phone. Sometimes, when you make calls, the call history can be seen on your phone, or someone can hit “redial” to see who you last called. Or, you might just not want someone else to hear what you are talking about or asking for help about. This is especially true if you are in an abusive relationship. You may be afraid that the abuser will find out who you have been talking to. You might not feel safe calling for help—even in your own home. 

For more information and tips about how to call for help safely, see the following resources.​

Web How to Call for Help Safely
Alberta Council of Women's Shelters
English

Web How to Spy Spyware on Your Phone
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Apps Help Survivors' Messages Stay Secret
domesticshelters.org
English
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page has information about:

  • what elder abuse is;
  • warning signs that an elder is being abused; and
  • where an elder who is being abused can get help.

This Information Page is for:

  • older adults (also called “elders”) who think they might be abused by someone;
  • elders who are being abused;
  • anyone who suspects that an elder may be being abused; and
  • anyone who wants to plan ahead to protect themselves from elder abuse.

This Information Page has much helpful information, such as tips and recommendations. But that does not mean they are the only ones. Also, they may not be “right” for your situation. Each person’s situation is different. You must also follow your instincts and do what is best for you. The information you will find here only includes some of the ways to educate and protect yourself and others against elder abuse. This Information Page will also link to other helpful Information Pages and resources.

In general, the law discussed on this Information Page is for people who live in Alberta.

You are currently on the Law tab of this Information Page. It has information on what the law says about elder abuse in Alberta.

Click on the Process tab above for:

  • what to do if you are experiencing elder abuse, and
  • tips on how to protect yourself.

There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

The topics on this page are listed in the order they are generally considered. The first topic is What the words mean. Please read this section even if you think you already know what the words mean. In order to understand the resources on this page, you will need to understand the legal terms.

What the words mean

These words are not listed alphabetically—they are in the order that makes it easiest to understand the complete legal picture.

If you are looking for a specific term, you can use the Glossary, which is in alphabetical order.

elder

An older person.

Be Aware

On this website, if elder is spelled with capital “E” (“Elder”), it refers to an Aboriginal Elder. An Elder is a person chosen by the Aboriginal community, and who is recognized for his or her spiritual and cultural wisdom. Aboriginal communities usually ask for help and advice from Elders. An Elder does not have to be an older person.

elder abuse

Elder abuse is an action or lack of action which causes harm to the safety, health, or well-being of an older adult.

family violence (also called “domestic violence” or “domestic abuse”)

Abuse of power by one person (the “abuser”) toward one or more other people that the abuser has a relationship with. It is a pattern of behaviours within a relationship of intimacy, dependency, and/or trust.

It is most common to think of family abuse happening in romantic relationships (such as dating, living together, and marriage). However, abuse can also occur in other relationships, such as those between parents and children, adult children and their parents (seniors), siblings, extended families, or people and their pets.

abuser

A person who uses their power in a relationship to control and/or harm a person with whom he or she has a relationship. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Abusers can be anyone, whether a friend, parent, romantic partner, adult child, or caregiver.

victim

The person who is controlled and/or hurt by someone else (the “abuser”). Victims can be anyone who is in a relationship with the abuser, such as a child, an elder, or a romantic partner. Victims may also be called “survivors.”

shelter

A safe place where victims of domestic violence can go to live on a temporary basis.

Criminal Code of Canada

A federal law that lists and describes most crimes and criminal procedures in Canada. Some other crimes are listed in other federal laws (such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act), but most crimes are included in the Criminal Code.

For more information about the Criminal Code of Canada, see the following resources.

Web Criminal Code – General FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Criminal Code
The Canadian Encyclopedia
English

criminal law

The system of law that involves punishing people who do things that harm people or property, or threaten to harm people or property. Property includes pets.

civil law

Civil law is the law that deals with disputes between individuals, such as family law and personal injury law.

physical abuse

Physical abuse involves your body. This could be any unwanted contact with any part of your body, such as punching, biting, pulling hair, slapping, pinching, pushing, or even caressing. Physical abuse includes sexual abuse, medication abuse, and neglect.

These different types of physical abuse are described in detail in the “Physical abuse” section below.

emotional abuse

Emotional abuse happens when someone uses words or emotions to hurt you. It is sometimes called verbal abuse or psychological abuse. Emotional abuse is intended to scare you, make you feel bad about yourself, and/or control you.

There are different types of emotional abuse. These are described in detail in the “Emotional or verbal abuse” section below.

financial abuse

Financial abuse happens when someone tries to use or control your money. This type of abuse can include:

  • controlling what you buy;
  • using your bank accounts without your knowledge or consent (including credit cards, debit cards, or cheques);
  • taking your money for themselves;
  • not letting you work, or limiting how many hours you work;
  • forcing you to sign legal documents that deal with money; or
  • abusing a Power of Attorney.

This type of abuse is described in detail in the “Financial abuse” section below.

safety plan

A plan that helps you prepare and stay safe in family violence situations. A safety plan can be used in many different situations, whether you are a parent, child, partner, elder, or pet owner.

client or “elder in care” (under the Protection for Persons in Care Act)

A person who is receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health. These services include:

  • nursing homes;
  • approved hospitals;
  • lodge accommodation;
  • mental health facilities;
  • certain shelters or hostels; and
  • day programs.

Power of Attorney

A document that gives someone else the right to make financial decisions for you, and to act on your behalf for your financial affairs. This can include paying bills, dealing with your money, and selling your property.

There are different kinds of Powers of Attorney:

  • An Immediate Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and ends at a specific date or after a certain decision has been made.
  • An Immediate and Enduring Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and continues if you become unable to make your own financial decisions.
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney (also called a “Springing Power of Attorney”) takes effect only when you become unable to make your own financial decisions.

Personal Directive

A document that gives someone else the legal power to make your personal decisions if you ever become unable to make those decisions for yourself. Personal decisions include health-related decisions. In other provinces and countries, this document might have a different name (such as “living will” or “Power of Attorney for Health”).

Will

A document that says what will happen to your “estate” once you have died. Your “estate” is most (or sometimes even all) of your property, including money, that is distributed by your Will.

The laws that may apply to you

As you work through and learn more about elder abuse, you may wish to read the laws (also called “statutes” or “acts”) that apply. The laws included on this Information Page are:

Web Criminal Code
Government of Canada
English


Web Family Violence Laws
Government of Canada
English

Web Les lois sur la violence familiale
Government of Canada
French

PDF Alberta Laws Concerning Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Lois de l’Alberta sur l’abus fait aux ainé-e-s
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

In non-emergency situations, when reading laws, you also need to know about the “regulations” associated with those laws. Each of the links above takes you to a page that lists the laws as well as the regulations that go with them. For more information on laws and regulations, see the Our Legal System Information Page.

If you plan on representing yourself in court, you will also need to understand the concept of “common law” (also called “case law”). In general, these terms refer to the idea that it is up to judges hearing individual cases to decide:

  1. the exact meaning of the words in the laws (called “interpretation”); and
  2. how that meaning applies to the people in those cases (called “application”).

This is important to understand because it means that what happens in other cases can affect what happens in your case. It also means that there are cases decided before that govern how cases are decided now. For more information on common law and case law, see the Our Legal System and Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Pages.

Elder abuse: The basics

It can be helpful to have some background about elder abuse. This section discusses:

  • How is elder abuse defined?
  • Why does elder abuse occur?
  • Abuse is never the victim’s fault
  • Why might an elder stay in an abusive relationship?
  • Elder abuse is more common than you think
  • Getting help

How is elder abuse defined?

Elder abuse is an action or lack of action which causes harm to the safety, health, or well-being of an older adult. Elder abuse may be physical, emotional, or financial.

The abuser is generally someone the victim trusts. The abuser may be:

  • an adult child or other relative;
  • a “friend” or neighbour;
  • a romantic partner;
  • a caregiver (who may be a professional or a family member);
  • an employee of the care facility where a senior lives (this is also called “institutional” elder abuse); or
  • a familiar acquaintance (for example, someone at the bank who regularly serves the elder).

Elder abuse can happen to anyone, whether that person is:

  • a man or woman;
  • rich or poor;
  • dating, living together, or married;
  • heterosexual or LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer); or
  • of any cultural background.

A common form of elder abuse is abuse by a romantic partner. This can happen:

  • as part of a long-term relationship; or
  • because the elder finds a new relationship later in life.

For more information about abuse of women later in life, see the following resources. Note that many of these resources are from outside Alberta, but the same concepts apply in Alberta too. Learn more here.


Web Elder Abuse: Domestic Violence
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
English


Web When Abuse Tarnishes The Golden Years
National Domestic Violence Hotline
English

Web Domestic and intimate partner violence
Office on Women's Health
English
See “Challenges facing older women.”

Web Who is Affected By Domestic Violence
Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
English
See “Elderly Women.”

Web Emotional Abuse of Women by their Intimate Partners: A Literature Review
Springtide Resources
English
See “Emotional Abuse Against Specific Populations.”

PDF Domestic Violence: Older Women Can Be Victims Too
National Center on Elder Abuse
English

PDF Older women and domestic violence: An Overview
Elder Abuse Ontario
English

PDF Power and Control: Understanding Domestic Abuse in Later Life
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
English

For more general information about abuse by a romantic partner, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Why does elder abuse occur?

People use abuse because they want to have power and be in control. Abusers will use different tactics to try to control another person. These may include:

  • physical abuse, such as slapping or punching;
  • emotional abuse, such as name-calling and criticizing; and
  • financial abuse, such as controlling the victim’s money and other financial affairs; and
  • keeping the victim away from friends and family so that they will be more vulnerable.

All of these tactics are ways for abusers to try to control their victims and manipulate them. For more information about the different types of abuse, see the “Different types of abuse: An introduction” section below.

There are also other factors that make elders vulnerable to abuse. As they age, elders may find themselves increasingly dependent on others. Caregivers may be stressed and unable to cope. Society’s negative attitudes about aging and a general a lack of respect for older people may also contribute to elder abuse.

For more general information about how an abuser might try to use power and control in a relationship, see the following resources.

Web What is Abuse?
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Family Violence in Later Life: Physical & Sexual Abuse
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
English


 

There are also other factors that make elders vulnerable to abuse. As they age, elders may find themselves increasingly dependent on others. Caregivers may be stressed and unable to cope. Society’s negative attitudes about aging and a general a lack of respect for older people may also contribute to elder abuse.

For more information about why elder abuse might occur, see the following resources.

Web Theories of Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Why Elder Abuse Happens
Edmonton Police Service
English

PDF Why Does Abuse Happen in Later Life?
Government of Canada
English

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 2.

PDF Elder Abuse
Government of Alberta
English

Web Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults: Information for Family Caregivers
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


Sometimes, a person might become abusive when they drink alcohol or do drugs. However, not all abusers drink or do drugs. For more information on the connection between family violence and substance abuse, see the following resources.


Web Why We Can't Blame Abuse on Alcohol
domesticshelters.org
English

Abuse is never the victim’s fault

Abuse is wrong, and it is not acceptable in Canada. No one ever deserves to be abused. You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about abuse. The responsibility belongs only to the abuser.

Why might an elder stay in an abusive relationship?

Elders are often very reluctant to report being abused. They may not be ready to:

  • leave the relationship;
  • insist that an abusive adult child move out; or
  • ask for a new caregiver.

There are many possible reasons for this. The following resources list many reasons why an elder may not leave an abusive relationship.

Web Revealing Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 12.

Web When Domestic Violence Happens Later in Life
domesticshelters.org
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay
The Colorado Lawyer
English
This resource is from outside Alberta and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.


Leaving an abusive relationship is also a dangerous process because the abuser might become angry if he or she finds out that the victim is leaving or planning to leave. Therefore, it is a good idea to make a safety plan for dangerous situations. For more information, see the Safety Planning & Preparing to Leave Information Page.

Elder abuse is more common than you think

In 2013, over 2,900 seniors in Canada reported incidents of family violence to the police. However, many cases of elder abuse do not get reported. This could be because the victims are ashamed or afraid. Also, grown children are the most frequent abusers of elders. Even if an elder is being abused, they may not want their child to get into trouble.

A number of studies show that between 4–8% of older adults in Canada are likely to experience abuse. As more of Canada’s population ages, elder abuse may increase as well.

For more statistics about elder abuse in Canada, see the following resources.

PDF Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2013
Government of Canada
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See Section 4.

Web Facts on elder abuse
Government of Alberta
Blackfoot, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Plains Cree, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English

Web Abuse in Canada
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

PDF Addressing Elder Abuse in Alberta: A Strategy for Collective Action
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 3-8.

Getting help

If you are being abused, you are not alone. There are many people who can help you. Talk to a family member, friend, teacher, doctor, community leader, Aboriginal Elder, clinic, counsellor, or the police. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English
See “Getting Help” on the top of the page, and choose your community.

Web Elder abuse resources
Government of Alberta
English

Web Getting Help: For Yourself
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Getting Help: For a Loved One
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English


See the Process tab of this Information Page for detailed information about things you can do if you:
  • need help because you are are being abused;
  • think someone is being abused; or
  • need help with an elder abuse-related issue such as finding appropriate support services.

See the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page for more resources to help you deal with elder abuse.

More information about elder abuse

For examples of what elder abuse can look like, see the following resources.

Web Stories of Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Stories of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

For information about elder abuse in specific communities, see the following resources.

Web Ethno-cultural Communities
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

PDF Elder Abuse in Aboriginal Communities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English

Video Elder Abuse Root Causes
Native Counselling Services of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

For more general information about elder abuse, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English

Web Elder Abuse: It's Time to Face the Reality
Government of Canada
English

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults
Government of Alberta
English

Web Elder Abuse: Topic Overview
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Help Starts Here
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, French, Punjabi
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See “Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults” and choose your language.

Web What is Elder Abuse? FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Elder abuse awareness
Government of Alberta
English

Web Legal Definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Government of Canada
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

PDF Elder Abuse Defined
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Elder Abuse
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English

Web Elder Abuse: The Hidden Crime
Community Legal Education Ontario
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


French resources
PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French


Web Définitions juridiques de la négligence et des mauvais traitements envers les aînés
Government of Canada
French
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

PDF L'abus fait aux aîné-e-s: Définition
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

Web Maltraiter une personne âgée : Le crime caché
Community Legal Education Ontario
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Guide juridique pour les personnes aînées du Nouveau-Brunswick
Association des juristes d'expression française du Nouveau-Brunswick
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See p. 41-50.
How is elder abuse different from other types of abuse?

In many ways, elder abuse is similar to other forms of domestic violence. But there are some differences.

First, elders tend to be more vulnerable. They may:

  • have physical or mental health issues;
  • be socially isolated;
  • have difficulties with memory;
  • be more dependent on others for help with daily tasks like transportation or shopping; and/or
  • not understand modern technology, such as online banking.

Any of these situations can make it easier for an abuser to take advantage of an elder.

Another difference relates to beliefs about family. For example:

  • An elder who is abused by their adult child might think: “I raised this child, so I am responsible for this behaviour.”
  • An elder might feel a duty to care for the abuser, because the abuser is their partner, or adult child with “problems.”
  • An elder may also want to protect the abuser because “families have to stick together no matter what.”

For more information on some of the unique aspects of elder abuse, see the following resources. Note that many of these resources are from outside Alberta, but the same concepts apply in Alberta too. Learn more here.

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 4-5.

PDF Addressing Elder Abuse in Alberta: A Strategy for Collective Action
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 6-7.

Web When Domestic Violence Happens Later in Life
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults: Understanding Gender Differences
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese


PDF Caregiver Challenges: Survivor of Past Abuse
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
English

Different types of elder abuse: An introduction

There are many different kinds of abuse. Often, when people think of abuse, they think of only the physical kind—the kind that leaves bruises, such as slapping, punching, and biting.

However, in addition to physical abuse, there is also emotional abuse and financial abuse.

All of these kinds of abuse are described in the sections that follow.

For more detailed information about all kinds of abuse, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English

Web Types of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Types of Elder Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

PDF Talking about family violence
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Am I Experiencing Abuse? Resources to Help Answer This Important Question
domesticshelters.org
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 141.
Physical abuse (including sexual abuse, medication abuse, and neglect)

Physical abuse involves your body. This could be any unwanted contact with any part of your body, such as punching, biting, pulling hair, slapping, pinching, pushing, or even caressing. It can also be failing to take care of your physical needs or your health. Even though the abuse is physical, there may not actually be any signs of abuse left on your body.

There are different kinds of physical abuse, including:

  • sexual abuse;
  • medication abuse; and
  • physical neglect.

These are described in more detail just below.

For more general information on different types of physical abuse and some ways to protect yourself, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English
See p. 8-11.

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 4.

PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French
Voir: p. 3.

Web What does the law say about... (different types of abuse)
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Physical Abuse.”

Web Stories of Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Stories of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 143.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse happens when someone tries to make you do something sexual that you do not want to do. This type of abuse includes:

  • rape or attempted rape;
  • kissing or touching someone who does not want to be kissed or touched;
  • engaging in sexual activity with someone who cannot say no because they are unconscious, drugged, or drunk; and
  • preventing someone from using protection, such as a condom or birth control.
Be Aware

A person can be sexaully abused by their spouse or partner. Just because you are married or living in a committed relationship does not mean that your partner can force you to have sex if you do not want to. If you do not consent, it is sexual assault (even if you are married).

There are many different forms of sexual abuse. For more information on the different types of sexual abuse and what you can do if you have been sexually abused, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English
See p. 12-13. 

PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language and then see “Sexual abuse.”

PDF Elder Sexual Abuse: The Dynamics of the Problem and Community-Based Solutions
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Sexual Abuse in Later Life
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Medication abuse

Medication abuse happens when someone fails to properly provide medication for another person. Medication abuse can include:

  • giving someone too much, too little, or no medication;
  • taking someone’s medication to use or sell;
  • refusing to refill someone’s prescription; or
  • changing the amount of medication someone should get without their permission or the doctor’s permission.

For more information about medication abuse, see the following resources.

PDF Abuse of Persons with Disabilities Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 2.

PDF Abuse of Persons with Disabilities
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 2.

Web Types of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Medication Abuse.”

PDF Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 144.

Physical neglect

Physical neglect happens when a person fails to provide for the physical needs of a person they are responsible for. This includes things like food, shelter, and clothing. For example:

  • if a caregiver did not provide meals for an elder; or
  • if an elder is sick and a family member refuses to bring the elder to a doctor.

For more information about neglect, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English
See p. 20-22. 

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 8.

PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French
Voir: p. 7.

PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language and then see “Neglect.”

PDF Elder Abuse: Failing to Provide the Necessaries of Life to Older Adults is a Crime
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
Emotional or verbal abuse

Emotional abuse happens when someone uses words or emotions to hurt you. It is sometimes called verbal abuse or psychological abuse. Emotional abuse is intended to scare you, make you feel bad about yourself, and/or control you.

Even though you might not see physical signs of this type of abuse (such as cuts and bruises), emotional abuse is also wrong. It can be just as damaging as physical abuse, or even more so.

The resources listed below give examples of what emotional abuse can look like.

Emotional abuse can take some very specific forms, including:

  • stalking;
  • digital abuse;
  • spiritual or religious abuse; and
  • emotional neglect.

The rest of this section describes each of these in more detail.

For more information about emotional abuse in general, see the following resources.

PDF Elder Abuse is Wrong
Government of Canada
English
See p. 14-16.

PDF Elder Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 5.

Web What does the law say about... (different types of abuse)
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Psychological or Emotional Abuse.”

PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French
See p. 4.

Web Stories of Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Stories of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language and then see “Emotional abuse.”

Stalking

Stalking happens when someone is constantly following or watching you. Stalking may also be called “criminal harassment.” A person being stalked is afraid for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. A person can be stalked or “criminally harassed” in person or online. There are laws that protect someone from being stalked.

For more information and examples of stalking and how to protect yourself, see the following resources.

Web Stalking
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Stalking Behaviour and the Crime of Criminal Harassment
Alberta Council of Women's Shelters
English

PDF Stalking is a crime called criminal harassment
Government of Canada
Chinese, English, Punjabi, Spanish

PDF Stalking in later life
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Help Starts Here
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, French, Punjabi
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See “Stalking (Criminal Harassment)” and choose your language.

Digital abuse

Digital abuse happens when someone is abusing you online. It can include things like:

  • writing hurtful things about you;
  • writing things about you that are mean, or spreading rumors about you, on your social media platforms;
  • posting photos of you that you do not want others to see; and
  • taking photos of you that you are not comfortable with.

Many people might think that digital abuse only happens between strangers on the internet or teenagers. This is often called “online bullying” or “cyberbullying.” However, this type of abuse also happens between family members who are upset about something.

For more information about online abuse, see the following resources. Note that many of these resources are from outside Alberta, but the same concepts apply in Alberta too. Learn more here.

Web Personal Safety: Bullying
Ottawa Police Service
English


Web Advice for Adult Victims of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying Research Center
English

Web Cyberbullying
LOOKBOTHWAYS LLC.
English
See “Pointers for seniors.”

Web Keeping Senior Citizens Safe Online
New York State Office of Information Technology Services
English

PDF Fact Sheet: Cyber Bullying
North Queensland Women’s Legal Service
English

Web A Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors on Criminal Harassment
Government of Canada
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See "1.6: Using Technology to Criminally Harass."

Web Harcèlement criminel : Guide à l'intention des policiers et des procureurs de la Couronne
Government of Canada
French
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Voir "1.6 La technologie au service du harcèlement criminel."

Spiritual or religious abuse

Spiritual or religious abuse happens when someone:

  • does not let you practice your religion;
  • does not allow you to go to your place of worship; or
  • forces their own religion or spiritual beliefs onto you.

For more information, see the following resources.

PDF What You Need to Know About Elder Abuse
Government of Ontario
English
See p. 2.

Web Family Violence Laws
canadianlawsite.ca
English

Web Legal Definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect
Government of Canada
English
See “2.3.3 Types of abuse.”

Web Définitions juridiques de la négligence et des mauvais traitements envers les aînés
Government of Canada
French
Voir “2.3.3 Les types de mauvais traitements.”

PDF Aboriginal Elder Abuse in Canada
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
English
See p. 4.

Web Elder Abuse in Canada: A Gender-Based Analysis—Summary
Government of Canada
English
See p. 11.

PDF Am I Experiencing Abuse? Resources to Help Answer This Important Question
domesticshelters.org
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 144.

Emotional neglect

Emotional neglect happens when a person does not give emotional support to someone they are responsible for. For example, a caregiver might be emotionally neglecting a dependent elder by leaving the elder alone for long periods of time. The elder may become frightened and insecure. The elder’s mental health is being damaged.

For more information about neglect, see the following resources.

PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language and then see “Neglect.”

PDF Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 142.
Financial abuse

Financial abuse happens when someone tries to use or control your money. This type of abuse can include:

  • controlling what you buy;
  • using your bank accounts without your knowledge or consent (including credit cards, debit cards, or cheques);
  • taking your money for themselves;
  • not letting you work, or limiting how many hours you work;
  • forcing you to sign legal documents that deal with money; or
  • abusing a Power of Attorney.

Financial abuse can also include “identity theft.” Identity theft happens when another person uses your personal information (such as your name, contact details, and social insurance number) to pretend that they are you. Then they can get a financial benefit. For example: the person can get a credit card, a loan, or a mortgage in your name, but use it for himself or herself.

For more information on identity theft and what you can do to protect yourself, see the following resources.

Web Identity Theft in Abusive Relationships
National Domestic Violence Hotline
English

Web How to Protect Your Identity
domesticshelters.org
English

PDF Safety Planning for Seniors: Tips on what you can do to keep yourself safe
Victim Services of Nipissing District
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See “Internet Safety Tips.” 

PDF Mesures de sécurité pour les aînés : Conseils à suivre pour vivre en sécurité
Victim Services of Nipissing District
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Voir: “Conseils de sécurité sur internet.”


For more general information on different types of financial abuse and what you can do, see the following resources.

Resources in English 


PDF Financial Abuse of Seniors
Government of Alberta
English

Web What does the law say about... (different types of abuse)
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Financial/Material Abuse.”


Web Financial elder abuse is on the rise
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.


Audio Financial abuse
Government of Alberta
English

Web Scams & Fraud
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Elder Abuse: Credit Card Fraud
Government of Canada
English

Web Elder Abuse: Investment Fraud
Government of Canada
English

Web Financial Abuse Help
theSingleMother.com
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Financial Abuse: The Ways and Means
Canadian Centre for Elder Law
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Edmonton man charged with Theft by Person Holding Power of Attorney
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

PDF Background Paper: Financial Abuse of Seniors: An Overview of Key Legal Issues and Concepts
Canadian Centre for Elder Law
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

PDF Money problems with your partner? Dealing with financial abuse
Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc.
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Resources in French and other languages

PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language and see “Financial abuse.”

Web Financial Abuse of Older Adults
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Violence Faite Aux Personnes Âgées
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French
See p. 5-6.



What a healthy relationship looks like

Healthy relationships with others are important for our well-being. Those others can be family members, friends, romantic partners, or caregivers. Everyone deserves to have healthy, supportive relationships.

People in a healthy relationship:

  • feel safe and comfortable with each other;
  • are okay spending time together as well as time apart from each other;
  • do not try to control each other; and
  • can disagree with each other but still respect each other.

For more information on elders and healthy relationships, see the following resources.

Web The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Family Relationships
Comfort Keepers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Making Healthy Relationships
Elder Help-Peel
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

For more information about healthy romantic relationships, see the “What a healthy relationship looks like” section of the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Signs of elder abuse

There are many signs of elder abuse that you can recognize in both the abuser and the victim.

Behaviours you might see by the abuser

Did you read the sections above about the different types of abuse? They describe some ways abusers treat their victims, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse.

There are also some general behaviours that are common among abusers. If someone is abusive, they might:

  • be extremely jealous;
  • never want you to spend time with anyone else;
  • threaten you;
  • regularly yell at you;
  • regularly ignore you for long periods of time (this is also called “giving the silent treatment” or “freezing out”);
  • say that he or she thinks that abuse is okay and normal;
  • try to control you and make all of your decisions for you;
  • put you down and try to make you feel bad about yourself;
  • treat you like a child; or
  • abuse animals.

Another common tactic of abusers is to try to confuse you. Such behaviour is also called “gaslighting.” For example, an abuser might:

  • twist information to benefit himself or herself;
  • give you false information to make you doubt your memories and perceptions (such as saying that something did not happen when you know it did); or
  • stage strange events.
Be Aware

These are only some of the warning signs of an abuser. There may also be warnings that are not listed anywhere, so it is important to trust your feelings as well.

It is also important to understand that sometimes people act in these ways but are not abusive. We all behave badly from time to time. But if such behaviours are repeated, they become a warning sign. The relationship might be becoming abusive.

For more information about warning signs of an abuser, see the following resource.

Video Elder Abuse - learn the signs and break the silence
Government of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

Behaviours you might see in someone being abused

Elders may not tell about abuse that is happening to them. And you may not see the abuse when you are with them. But you may see clues in the way they behave that make you wonder about what is happening.

The resources below give many examples of behaviours and warning signs that an elder is being abused. Note that these are only some of the warning signs of elder abuse. There may also be warnings that are not listed anywhere, so it is important to trust your feelings as well.

It is also important to understand that sometimes people act in these ways but are not being abused. For example, a person may miss appointments for many other reasons. Also, different types of abuse may lead to different signs. For example, signs of physical abuse might look different than signs of emotional or financial abuse.

For more information about signs you might see in elders who are abused, see the following resources.


PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English
See “What are clues that an older adult is being abused?”

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults
Government of Alberta
English

Web 29 Signs of Elder Abuse
domesticshelters.org
English

PDF Elder Abuse Protocol
Action Group on Elder Abuse
English
Start on p. 13.

Web Types of Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Elder Abuse - learn the signs and break the silence
Government of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

Web Elder Abuse: Topic Overview
Government of Alberta
English

Web Facts on elder abuse
Government of Alberta
Blackfoot, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Plains Cree, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese

PDF Abuse and neglect of an older or vulnerable person
Leduc & District Victim Assistance Society
English
Is elder abuse “against the law”?

Some people think that abuse that takes place in private is just a personal matter. This is not true. In Canada, there are criminal laws against abuse.

Criminal law is the system of law that involves punishing people who do things that harm people or property, or threaten to harm people or property. Property includes pets. For example, the Criminal Code of Canada protects against certain types of abuse such as assault, sexaul assault, criminal harassment (stalking), and uttering threats.

There are also some “civil law” remedies that can help a person who has been abused. A civil remedy is often in the form of money, which is paid to the victim. There are also certain protective orders available under the civil law, which can help keep the abuser away from the victim. Also, in Alberta, there is a law that specifically protects elders from abuse if they are receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health. For more information about this law, see the “Legal requirements for reporting elder abuse” section just below.

For information about what is considered a crime in Alberta and Canada, see the following resources.

Web What does the law say about... (different types of abuse)
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Introduction to Canadian Law
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Criminal Law.”

Web It's Not Allowed
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English



Web Elder Abuse - Frequently Asked Questions
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web The Law of Sexual Assault in Canada
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Family Law Education for Women
Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Choose your language, then see topic #4.

Presentation Criminal Law and Violence Against Women: Basic Concepts
Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Elder Abuse: Failing to Provide the Necessaries of Life to Older Adults is a Crime
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
 

For more information about how criminal and civil law can help in different situations of family violence, see the Family Violence: How Criminal & Civil Law Can Help Information Page.

For information about contacting the police, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

Legal requirements for reporting elder abuse

Reporting elder abuse is different depending on the situation.

Elders who are receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health are protected from abuse under Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA). People who are protected under the PPCA are often called people “in care” or “clients.” If you believe that a person in care has been abused, you are required to report it as soon as possible. It is the law.

Be Aware

People in care who have experienced abuse are not required to report their own abuse. If an abused person decides to report the abuse, they must make that report no later than 2 years after the date the incident occurred.

See the “Reporting abuse of elders in care” section on the Process tab of this Information Page for more information about:

  • what situations are covered by the Protection for Persons in Care Act;
  • how to report abuse;
  • and what happens after you report abuse.

There is no legal requirement to report elder abuse that occurs in settings not covered by the Protection for Persons in Care Act.

An elder may have strong reasons for choosing not to report abuse. (See the “Elder abuse: The basics” section above.) In fact, it is common for elders to resist help if abuse is reported without their consent. But it is still important to help elders recognize the abuse and get help. For more information about how to help, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

Elder abuse in blended families

When people remarry or have a new relationship, they might form what is called a “blended family.” A blended family is a family that has children from previous relationships. It may also have children from the current relationship.

Sometimes elder abuse may be rooted in extended family relationships. For example, when a couple marries later in life, their adult children may be unhappy about it. A child might try to take control of the situation and become abusive. 

There is also the risk that a new marriage later in life could turn out to be abusive. For more information about abuse by a romantic partner, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Elder abuse and LGBTQ considerations

A common form of elder abuse is abuse by a romantic partner. Partner abuse can occur in any type of LGBTQ relationship: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, trans-identified, two-spirited, or queer. For more information about abuse by a romantic partner, including issues in LGBTQ relationships, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

Although Canadian society is gradually changing, there are still issues of homophobia, transphobia, discrimination, and misunderstanding. Some possible effects of this are:

  • If an LGBTQ elder is abused, they may be even less likely to report it because they fear further discrimination.
  • Discrimination by professional caregivers or staff in care facilities may lead to neglect and abuse of LGBTQ elders.
  • LGBTQ elders may have smaller support networks from which to seek help.

For more information, see the following resources. Note that some of these resources are from outside Alberta, but the same concepts apply in Alberta too. Learn more here.

Web Elder Abuse
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
English



PDF Mistreatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Elders
National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
English
Elder abuse in polyamorous families

In any intimate relationship, there is the possibility for issues of power and control. A common form of elder abuse is abuse by a romantic partner. For more information about abuse by a romantic partner, including possible issues in polyamorous relationships, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

An elder could also be connected to a polyamorous family without being a partner in the relationship. For example, an elder’s adult child could be one of the partners in the polyamorous relationship. If the elder is dependent on that family and one of the members of the polyamorous relationship becomes abusive, the elder could feel quite isolated. It is possible that:

  • The family dynamics could make it difficult to seek support within the family. Split loyalties may even contribute to the abuse.
  • The elder may be worried that other family, friends, or helpers would not understand this type of family situation. The elder may feel embarrassed to talk about it. The elder may even have been warned to not talk about it.

Facing these issues can be challenging. It is important to remember that elder abuse is wrong. Whatever situation a family is in, no one should be abused. You can contact the Family Violence Information Line for help. Their toll-free number is 310-1818 and they are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, in over 170 different languages.

Elder abuse and immigration considerations

Elder abuse can also happen to people who are not Canadian citizens, including temporary foreign workers and those in the process of immigrating to Canada.

If you are new to Canada, domestic violence can be even more complicated. For example, asking for help may be more difficult if English is your second language. Some immigrant victims might also think that violence is normal and allowed in Canada.

If you are experiencing abuse, you are not alone. This can be a scary situation because you might be afraid about how the abusive relationship will affect your immigration status. For places and contacts that can help with family violence in the immigrant community, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

If you need information about elder abuse in languages other than English, see the following resources.

Web Facts on elder abuse
Government of Alberta
Blackfoot, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Plains Cree, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese

PDF Say "NO" to Elder Abuse
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
Arabic, Chinese, English, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese

PDF Help Starts Here
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, French, Punjabi
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See “Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults” and choose your language.


For more information about elder abuse in immigrant communities, see the following resources.
Web Ethno-cultural Communities
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English

Web Violence Against Women - Seniors
Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.



Web Elder Abuse
Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Immigration, Abuse and Capacity Issues: Background Paper
British Columbia Law Institute
English
This resource is from outside Alberta and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Start on p. 18.


A common form of elder abuse in all communities, including immigrant communities, is abuse by a romantic partner. For more information about abuse by a romantic partner, see the Partner Abuse Information Page.

For detailed information about family violence when dealing with immigration matters, see the Family Breakdown & the Immigration Process Information Page.

Aboriginal matters and on-reserve considerations

Aboriginal cultures may be different in how they approach family violence. For example, they may not want to punish the abuser and keep them away from the victims and families. Instead, some Aboriginal communities value a “holistic” approach to addressing family violence. This means that the community may value healing not only the victim, but also the abuser. These communities may also need resolutions that will help balance the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the whole community, which includes both the victim and the abuser.

However, each Aboriginal community is different, and the healing approaches will be different depending on the particular community.

To learn more about elder abuse in Aboriginal communities, see the following resources.

PDF Aboriginal Elder Abuse in Canada
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
English

PDF Elder Abuse in Aboriginal Communities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English

Video Hidden - Elder Abuse in Aboriginal Communities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English

Video Elder Abuse Root Causes
Native Counselling Services of Alberta (via YouTube)
English

Video Elder Abuse - 3 Types of Abuse
Native Counselling Services of Alberta (via YouTube)
English


To learn more about family violence in Aboriginal communities, see the following resources.
Web Aboriginal Families
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Aboriginal Journey to Healing Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English

Video Home Fire - Ending the Cycle of Family Violence
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English


There are special services that are available for Aboriginal people dealing with family violence. For information about the services available in your area, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page. You can also call the Family Violence Information Line from anywhere in Alberta. Their toll-free phone number is 310-1818, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some Aboriginal communities or reserves might have their own domestic violence programs or services that the Family Violence Information Line can tell you about.

Generally, Aboriginal people are treated in the same way as anyone else under the law. However, there may be some differences if you live on a reserve. For more information, see the Family Breakdown if You Live on Reserve Information Page.

Safety planning

It is a good idea to make a safety plan. A safety plan has personalized information about ways you can protect yourself in dangerous situations. Safety plans usually include lists of:

  • safe places to go;
  • contact information for people you trust; and
  • items to take with you if you decide to leave.

For more detailed information about safety planning, see the Safety Planning Information Page.

For more information about things to consider if you want to leave an abusive relationship, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

If you think that you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911.

Elder abuse and family law issues

An elder who is being abused by their partner may decide to end the abusive relationship. For more information about things to consider when ending an abusive relationship, see the “If there has been family violence” section of the appropriate Information Page:

Elders may live together simply for companionship. They may be in a non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationship. For more information, see the “If there has been family violence” section of the Ending a Non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationship Information Page

An elder who is being abused may fear that they will be cut off from contact with their grandchildren. There are options to get a court order for contact with a child, if it is in the child's best interests. For more information, see the Contact for Non-Guardians under the Family Law Act Information Page.

Can I prevent elder abuse before it happens?

As you age, there are some steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable to abuse. The most important thing is to make plans for the future while you are still healthy and independent.

See the Process tab of this Information Page for detailed information on personal steps and legal steps you can take to protect yourself from abuse.

Process

Learn more about what to do in situations of elder abuse, including:

  • What will happen if you call 911
  • How to report abuse in a care facility
  • Who can help victims of abuse
  • Ways to prevent elder abuse before it happens

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
How to be safe on the internet

It is helpful to know how to look at things on the internet safely. You might not want someone else to see what you are looking at. Or you might want to learn how to delete your internet history, which shows which sites you have looked at. You might also not feel safe looking at family violence information, especially if you are in an abusive relationship and are afraid of your abuser.

For instructions on how to look at things on the internet safely and how to delete your browser history, see the Safe Browsing page.

For more information and tips about how to be safe on the internet, see the following resources.

Web Safe Browsing Tips: Computer, Phone and Tablet
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Protecting Your Email
domesticshelters.org
English

How to be safe on the phone

It is also helpful to know how to be safe when using the phone. Sometimes, when you make calls, the call history can be seen on your phone, or someone can hit “redial” to see who you last called. Or, you might just not want someone else to hear what you are talking about or asking for help about. This is especially true if you are in an abusive relationship. You may be afraid that the abuser will find out who you have been talking to. You might not feel safe calling for help—even in your own home.

For more information and tips about how to call for help safely, see the following resources.

Web How to Call for Help Safely
Alberta Council of Women's Shelters
English

Web How to Spy Spyware on Your Phone
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Apps Help Survivors' Messages Stay Secret
domesticshelters.org
English
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page is for:

  • someone who is experiencing elder abuse;
  • someone who thinks they know an elder being abused; or
  • someone who wants to learn more about elder abuse and what they can do to help.
Tip

If you are just starting out with this topic, it’s a good idea to begin on the Law tab of this Information Page. There you will find basic information about what the law says, what the words mean, and other issues that will help you understand elder abuse.

You are currently on the Process tab of this Information Page, which has information about processes you can follow to protect yourself if you are suffering from elder abuse. There is also important information in the Common Questions, Myths, and Law tabs above. In particular, if you have not already done so, you may want to review the “What the words mean” section of the Law tab.

In general, the processes described on this Information Page apply to people who live in Alberta.

Immediate danger: Calling 911

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, you should call 911. If you can’t call 911 before the abuse happens, you can call 911 as soon as possible after the abuse happens, or when it is safe to do so.

Be Aware

All phones work for calling 911. This is true even if your phone doesn’t have a service plan, you don’t have any minutes, or you don’t have a SIM card.

When calling 911, there are a few important things you should mention over the phone.

  • The person who answers will ask you whether you want the fire department, the police, or an ambulance. If you don’t know which service you need, explain your situation to the person who answered the phone and they will help.
  • Say your name
  • Give them your address or location
  • Tell them why you need help with as much detail as possible
  • If it is safe to do so, don’t hang up the phone

For more tips about calling 911, see the following resource.

What will happen if you call 911

If you call 911 to report family violence, the police will ask you for information about what has happened.

The more information you can give the police, the better. For example:

  • what exactly is happening;
  • which people or animals are being threatened or hurt; and
  • whether there are any weapons involved.

The police will then let you know if they can come out to the place where the violence is happening, and how soon. They may have other instructions for you.

When the police come out, they will likely have more questions for you about what happened. The police might decide to charge the abusive person with a crime if they believe that a crime was committed.

For a detailed summary of what can happen if you call the police, see the following resources.

Web When They Show Up (Getting the Police Involved)
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Getting the Police Involved
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Getting Help from the Police or RCMP
Legal Services Society
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Punjabi, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


For more information on how the police and criminal law system can help, see the Family Violence: How Criminal & Civil Law Can Help Information Page and the following resources.
PDF Abuse is wrong in any language (available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu)
Government of Canada (via Your Legal Rights)
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Other languages
Choose your language, then see “What happens if you call the police?”

Web Domestic Abuse and Your Legal Rights
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See “Getting The Police Involved.”

Web Getting the Police Involved
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Reporting abuse of elders in care

Elders who are receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health are protected from abuse under Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA).

Who are “service providers”?

The PPCA applies to service providers who are funded by the Government of Alberta, either directly or indirectly. These include:

  • nursing homes;
  • approved hospitals;
  • lodge accommodation;
  • mental health facilities;
  • certain shelters or hostels; and
  • day programs.

For more information about the care situations that are covered under the PPCA, see the following resource.

PDF A Guide to Understanding the Protection for Persons in Care Act
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 2.

What is abuse by service providers?

The PPCA has some specific definitions of abuse. In general, abuse under the PPCA includes any act or failure to act that:

  • causes serious physical harm;
  • causes serious emotional harm;
  • involves misuse of medications that then leads to serious bodily harm (this includes being given medications, being denied medications, or being given the wrong medications);
  • involves sexual abuse;
  • involves misuse or theft of a client’s money or valuable possessions; or
  • results in failing to provide adequate nutrition, adequate medical attention, or another necessity of life without the consent of the client, that leads to serious bodily harm.

Service providers and their employees are also responsible for keeping their clients safe from abuse.

For more information on the responsibilities of service providers and the definition of abuse, see the following resource.

PDF A Guide to Understanding the Protection for Persons in Care Act
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 3-6.

How to report abuse of an elder in care

If you believe that an elder in care (also called a "client") has been abused, you are required to report it as soon as possible.

Remember

People in care who have experienced abuse are not required to report their own abuse. If an abused person decides to report the abuse, they must make that report no later than 2 years after the date the incident occurred.

If the person is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, call the Protection for Persons in Care Information and Reporting Line at 1-888-357-9339. Staff at the reporting line can tell you whether the care situation is covered by the PPCA, and whether you should report elsewhere (for example: to the police or a health profession regulatory body).

Be Aware

The Protection for Persons in Care Information and Reporting Line is not a crisis line. It only operates during the day on weekdays.

When you make a report, you must give your name and contact information. Staff members at Protection for Persons in Care will not reveal your name except in particular situations.

For more information on how to report abuse and what situations would require the release of your personal information, see the following resources.

PDF A Guide to Understanding the Protection for Persons in Care Act
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 6-7.

Web Protection for Persons in Care: Reporting abuse
Government of Alberta
English

What happens after you report abuse

Service providers are not allowed to take any action against you or the client because you have reported suspected abuse or helped with an investigation.

An elder who has been abused in care may want to change their living accommodations. For information about finding new accommodations that follow government standards, see the Caring for and Decision-Making for a Family Member Information Page.

More information

For more information about reporting the abuse of elders in care, see the following resources.

Web Protection for Persons in Care
Government of Alberta
English




What you can do if you are a victim of elder abuse

Remember that abuse is always wrong and it is never the victim’s fault. No one ever deserves to be abused. Talk to someone you trust, whether a friend, family member, counsellor, or health care professional. You are not alone.

You can always call the Family Violence Info Line for help. Their toll-free phone number is 310-1818, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 170 languages.

For information about what to expect when you call a hotline for help, see the following resource.

Web Calling a Hotline: What You Can Expect
domesticshelters.org
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


There are also some other steps you can take to stay safe. The rest of section has information about these steps, including:
  • Safety planning
  • Breaking your lease
  • What to do if you are in a care facility
  • What to do if you are abused by your “decision-maker”
  • Resources to help

Safety planning

It is a good idea to make a safety plan. A safety plan has personalized information about ways you can protect yourself in dangerous situations. Safety plans usually include lists of:

  • safe places to go;
  • contact information for people you trust; and
  • items to take with you if you decide to leave.

For more detailed information about safety planning, see the Safety Planning Information Page.

If you rent: Breaking your lease without penalty

Leaving an abusive relationship often means that you must leave the home you shared with your abuser. If you signed a lease for the home, you may be concerned about your legal responsibilities if you leave.

Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act has recently changed. Now victims of abuse are allowed to break their lease early, without a financial penalty. To do this, you must give your landlord a certificate from the Alberta government’s Safer Spaces Processing Centre. The Safer Spaces Processing Centre can give you this certificate if you give them one of the following:

  • a copy of a protective order from a court (such as an Emergency Protection Order, Queen’s Bench Protection Order, restraining order, or peace bond); OR
  • a letter from a “certified professional” confirming that you or your children are in danger.

For more information about who is a “certified professional” and other rules that apply, see the following resources.

PDF Renting and Domestic Violence: Ending Your Lease Early
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Safer Spaces certificate to end tenancy
Government of Alberta
English


PDF Information for Tenants
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 12.

If you are in care

If you are being abused by a publicly funded care provider, it can be investigated under Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA). For more information about this, see the “Reporting abuse of elders in care” section above.

If you are being abused by a “decision-maker”

If you are being abused by someone who has the authority to make decisions with you, you may be able take away their power. For example: you may have signed a Supported Decision-Making Authorization with someone who is now abusing you. As long as you still have capacity, you can sign a “termination” form that will take away that person’s right to help you. For more information, see the Planning for Illness Information Page.

You may be abused by someone who is making your decisions for you. For example: under a Power of Attorney, Personal Directive, or informal trusteeship. In these cases, you may be able to get the help of the courts to change the situation and possibly have the person charged with a crime. For more information, see the Caring for & Decision-Making for a Family Member and Family Violence: How Criminal & Civil Law Can Help Information Pages.

Resources to help

There are many different programs, services, and shelters for victims of domestic abuse. You can find information about who can help women, children, older adults, and men. There is also information for victims who are Aboriginal, immigrants, or LGBTQ. For lists of people and places that can help you, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

There is also more information in the sections below that start with “Support for victims.”

Tip

If you have been injured as a result of domestic violence, you may be able to get financial benefits. For more information, see the following resources.

PDF Financial Benefits for Victims of Violent Crime
Government of Alberta
English

Web Compensation for Crimes
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

More information

For more information about what you can do, see the following resources.

Web Getting Help: For Yourself
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English
See the links on the right side of the page to get help in your community.

Web What can I do if I, or someone I care about, is being abused? FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Elder abuse resources
Government of Alberta
English

Web Elder Abuse Resource Line
Kerby Centre
English

Web Elder Abuse
Edmonton Police Service
English

Web Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network: Documents
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English
What you can do if you think someone might be a victim of elder abuse

If you think that someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

If you think someone you know is being abused, you can contact the Family Violence Information Line from anywhere in Alberta to ask them how you can help. Their toll-free number is 310-1818 and they are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, in over 170 different languages.

You can also go to their website and chat online. The online chat is available every day from noon until 8:00 pm. The online chat is anonymous, which means that the person you speak to will not know who you are and you will not know who they are. The online chat is only available in English. If you would like to speak to someone in another language, it is best to talk to a staff member over the phone. See the following resource to start a chat session.

Web Find Supports and Services
Government of Alberta
English

If the elder is in care

Elders who are receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health are protected from abuse under Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA). If you believe that a person in care has been abused, you are required to report it as soon as possible. It is the law. See the “Reporting abuse of elders in care” section above for more information.

If you think that someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

If the elder is being abused by a “decision-maker”

Sometimes elders are abused by someone who has the authority to make decisions with them. In these cases, the elder may be able take away the decision-making power. For example: the elder may have given a Supported Decision-Making Authorization to someone who is now abusing them. As long as the elder still has capacity, they can sign a “termination” form that will take away that person’s right to help. For more information, see the Planning for Illness Information Page.

Or, elders may be abused by someone who is making decisions for them. For example: under a Power of Attorney, Personal Directive, or informal trusteeship. In these cases, the elder may be able to get the help of the courts to change the situation and possibly have the person charged with a crime. For more information, see the Caring for & Decision-Making for a Family Member and Family Violence: How Criminal & Civil Law Can Help Information Pages.

More information

For more information and steps you can take if you think an elder is being abused, see the following resources.

Web Getting Help: How can the law help after abuse has occurred?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web How to Help Abused Seniors
Edmonton Police Service
English

Web Getting Help: For a Loved One
Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network
English
See the links on the right side of the page to get help in your community.

Web What can I do if I, or someone I care about, is being abused? FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults
Government of Alberta
English
See “How to help an abused older adult.”

Web Elder Abuse Resource Line
Kerby Centre
English

Web Elder Abuse
Edmonton Police Service
English

Web Elder abuse resources
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Service Provider Screening Guide for Elder Abuse
Government of Alberta
English

Web Preventing Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults
Government of British Columbia
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Vietnamese
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
 

There are many different programs, services, and shelters for victims of domestic abuse. You can find information about who can help women, children, older adults, and men. There is also information for victims who are Aboriginal, immigrants, or LGBTQ. For lists of people and places that can help, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

What you can do if you think you or someone you care about is abusive

If you think that you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911.

You might be worried that someone you know is abusive. You might not be sure what to do, or if you should do anything at all. Or, you may be worried that you are abusive or are becoming abusive.

For information on what you can do if you think a person you know is abusive, see the following resource. Note that this resource talks about partner abuse, but the same concepts apply for other kinds of elder abuse.

Web How to Talk to Men Who are Abusive
Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children
English
See “How to talk to men who are abusive.”​

For information on what you can do if you think that you are abusive, see the If You Think You Might be Abusive: Learning to Stop the Cycle of Abuse Information Page. Although that Information Page is intended for abusers wanting to change, the information might also be helpful if you think that someone you care about is abusive. There may be relevant resources to help you through your situation or the situation of someone you care about.

What you can do if the elder you are caring for is abusive

As people age, family members are often called on to help as caregivers, or to help plan for future care needs. If the elder who is in need of care is abusive or has been controlling and abusive in the past, caregiving becomes much more complicated. You do not need to cope with this on your own. It is important to ask for help to figure out whether or not it is even possible for you to do this. If you choose to help with caregiving, you can put supports in place for your well-being.

To learn more about caregiving in abusive situations, see the following resources. These resources are from outside Alberta, but the same concepts apply in Alberta too. Learn more here.

  
PDF Caregiver Challenges: Survivor of Past Abuse
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
English
 
Safety planning

Leaving an abusive relationship can be very dangerous. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a safety plan so that you know:

  • where you can go;
  • who you can talk to; and
  • what you need to take with you.

Safety plans can be used even if you do not plan to leave the relationship right away. It is always good to know what to do if you are ever in danger, or in case you ever do need to leave. You can never be too prepared or too safe.

Having a safety plan will prepare you for a situation where you need to be protected. For detailed information, see the Safety Planning Information Page.

Support for victims: Shelters, housing, and financial help

Seniors’ organizations are usually well-informed about the services available in their area. See the following resource for contact information in your area.

PDF Directory of Seniors' Centres in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English

Finding a shelter

A shelter is a safe place where victims of domestic violence can go to live on a temporary basis. There are many different shelters throughout the province. Certain shelters may only be for women, for women and children, or for men. There are even shelters for seniors who are being abused. For contact information, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

For a list of things to think about to help decide which shelter will be best for your situation, see the following resources. Note that these resources talk about partner abuse, but most of the same concerns apply for elder abuse situations too.

Web Escape Plan: How to Find a Safe Place
domesticshelters.org
English

Web Important Questions to Ask a Shelter
domesticshelters.org
English

If you rent: Breaking your lease without penalty

Leaving an abusive relationship often means that you must leave the home you shared with your abuser. If you signed a lease for the home, you may be concerned about your legal responsibilities if you leave.

Alberta’s Residential Tenancies Act has recently changed. Now victims of abuse are allowed to break their lease early, without a financial penalty. To do this, you must give your landlord a certificate from the Alberta government’s Safer Spaces Processing Centre. The Safer Spaces Processing Centre can give you this certificate if you give them one of the following:

  • a copy of a protective order from a court (such as an Emergency Protection Order, Queen’s Bench Protection Order, restraining order, or peace bond); OR
  • a letter from a “certified professional” confirming that you or your children are in danger.

For more information about who is a “certified professional” and other rules that apply, see the following resources.

PDF Renting and Domestic Violence: Ending Your Lease Early
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Safer Spaces certificate to end tenancy
Government of Alberta
English


PDF Information for Tenants
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 12.

Financial help

Abusers often control the family’s money and finances. Therefore, after you leave an abusive relationship, you may find that you need financial help to rebuild your life or get back on your feet. For an overview of your options, see the following resources.

PDF If you Leave...Your Guide to Financial Support Options
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF It Starts Today
Today Family Violence Help Centre
English
See “Financial Benefits Available.”


To apply for help from the Alberta Works Supports for Albertans Fleeing Abuse program, see the following resources.

PDF Supports for Albertans Fleeing Abuse
Government of Alberta
English

Web Alberta Works Contact Centres
Government of Alberta
English


For more information on other services that Alberta Works provides, see the following resource.

Web Alberta Works
Government of Alberta
English


To apply for the Victims Services Financial Benefit Program, see the following resources.

PDF Financial Benefits for Victims of Violent Crime
Government of Alberta
English

Web Compensation for Crimes
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English


There may be community services in your area that can help you set up your new home. See the following resources for more information.


Web About Connect: How Connect Works
Connect Family & Sexual Abuse Network
English

Interactive 211 Alberta
211 Alberta
English


Alberta also has financial assistance programs specifically for people over 65. You can learn about them from the following resource.
Web Seniors financial assistance and benefits
Government of Alberta
English
Be Aware

To be eligible for the Seniors Financial Assistance program, you must meet certain income requirements and be receiving Old Age Security (OAS). People who have lived in Canada for less than 10 years are not eligible to receive OAS. However, in those cases, Alberta Works may be able to help in other ways. For more information, contact a centre near you.

Web Alberta Works Contact Centres
Government of Alberta
English
Support for victims: Police escorts and getting a protective order

Police escorts

Many people have to leave an abusive situation quickly and do not have time to take anything with them. If you are afraid of going back to the abusive home that you left, you can ask the police to escort you there while you go get some of the personal belongings that you left behind. It might not be safe going back to the home alone, but might be safer with a police officer.

Be Aware

A police escort is for personal belongings that you need right away. For example: medication, clothing, toiletries, and things you need for work. The police might also be able to tell you what you are allowed to take with you and what you aren’t allowed to take with you.

For more information about what types of service might be available in your area, contact your local police force.

Web Police services
Government of Alberta
English

Web Police Agencies in Canada: Alberta
myPolice.ca
English

Protective orders

If you are afraid that your abuser will continue to hurt you, you can apply for a protective order. Depending on what kind of protective order you want, the police may be able to help with this. There are different types of protective orders depending on your situation.

For detailed information about your options, see the Protective Orders Information Page.

Support for victims: Emotional help and other community help

Emotional help

Even after you’ve left the abusive relationship, you might still get nightmares, or be depressed, scared, or anxious because of the abuse that you suffered.

You might need to talk to a therapist about what you have been through. Or, you might want to talk with a friend or an anonymous hotline. It is possible to heal from the effects of abuse and even to have new healthy relationships in the future.

For more information about recovering from abuse, see the following resources.

Web How to Recover from Emotional Abuse
theSingleMother.com
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Dating and New Relationships for Older Adults
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Are You Dating? - Older Adults and Healthy Relationships
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Êtes-vous dans une relation? - Fréquentations saines chez les aînés
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

For more information on community supports, such as counselling or mental health lines, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

Other community help

There are many people and places in Alberta that can help you. They can help you before you leave, and with issues that come up after you leave.

There also are organizations in Alberta that serve specific groups. You can find information about who can help women, children, older adults, and men. There is also information for victims who are Aboriginal, immigrants, or LGBTQ.

Seniors’ organizations are usually well-informed about the services available in their area. See the following resource for contact information in your area.

PDF Directory of Seniors' Centres in Alberta
Government of Alberta
English

The Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page will point you to places that can help with:

  • making a safety plan;
  • finding a shelter;
  • pet safekeeping if you can’t take your pet with you;
  • emergency transportation;
  • financial help and setting up a new home;
  • legal help with things like protective orders and family law matters;
  • parenting help with things like safe visitation and monitored exchange; and
  • emotional help.
Before elder abuse happens: Protecting yourself

As you age, there are some steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable to abuse. The most important thing is to make plans for the future while you are still healthy and independent.

General protective steps

Stay connected  

Having a strong network of supportive people in your life can boost your self-esteem and leave you less vulnerable to abuse. Also, if you are connected to others, any abuse is more likely to be noticed.

Some steps you can take include the following.

  • Maintain friendships with a variety of people of all ages.
  • Stay involved in activities as best you can.
  • Be willing to ask for help if you need it.    

Be cautious about your living arrangements

An adult child or another relative may ask to live with you. Or family members may suggest that you move in with them. Living with others can have advantages, but there are also risks. Think carefully about the arrangements. What boundaries or rules might be needed? How do you expect to be treated?

Some possible safeguards could include the following.

  • Make a written agreement about your arrangement. You might want to give a copy of this agreement to someone outside the household who can support you with it.
  • Arrange to have someone outside the household check on how things are going from time to time.

For information about how to make an agreement on your own, see the Cohabitation Agreements Information Page.

You may also want to get legal advice. For information about your options for legal help, see the following Information Pages.

Keep control of your financial affairs as long as possible

Some things to consider include:

  • arranging direct deposit of pension and other income;
  • arranging direct debit for your bills;
  • keeping a record of your property, bank accounts, and belongings;
  • not promising your home or possessions in exchange for someone’s help and care; and
  • being careful about loaning money. For example, even if it is for a family member, you can document the loan and have a plan for repayment. This way it will be clear that it is not a gift. For more information about loaning money to family members, see the Financial Issues between Family Members Information Page.

Develop strong professional supports

People from outside your family who have particular skills can give you independent advice and watch out for things that may be going wrong. Some examples are:

  • a family doctor you are comfortable talking to;
  • a regular pharmacist who understands your medications;
  • a financial advisor, accountant, or banker that you trust; and
  • a lawyer.

Practice good personal safety

Although abusers are usually someone close to the victim, not strangers, you can adopt some good practices that will keep you safer in general and more in control of your life.

Some examples of these good practices include the following.

  • Keep your home secure.
  • Do not leave cash, jewelry, or precious possessions lying in the open.
  • Carry a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Protect the PINs for your bank and credit cards.
  • Learn about scams and how to protect yourself.

More information

For more information about general steps you can take to prevent abuse, see the resources listed at the end of this section.

Legal protective steps

Personal Directives and Powers of Attorney

A Personal Directive is a document that gives someone else the right to look after your personal, non-financial decisions for you. For example: decisions about health care (including medical treatments) and housing. The person who is given this power is called the “Agent.”

A Power of Attorney is a document that gives someone else the right to make financial decisions for you, and to act on your behalf with your financial affairs. This can include paying bills, dealing with your money, and selling your property. The person who is given this power is called the “Attorney.”

Having these documents allows you to decide, in advance, who will make your decisions on your behalf in case you ever lose the ability the make these decisions for yourself. However, your Agent and Attorney will have a great deal of control over your life. This means that there is the possibility of abuse.

Therefore, when you make a Personal Directive or a Power of Attorney, you may want to consider ways to reduce the risk of abuse, such as:

  • being very careful in your choice of the person to be your decision-makers;
  • appointing more than one decision-maker so they can work together;
  • talking to your decision-makers about your expectations and wishes;
  • talking to your decision-makers about how they feel about their responsibilities and who could support them if they have difficulties; and
  • requiring the decision-makers to report to someone else on a regular basis about the decisions they have made.

For more information about making a Personal Directive and a Power of Attorney, see the Planning for Illness Information Page.

Joint property

The term “property” means both:

  • “personal” property, such as bank accounts or vehicles; and
  • “real property,” such as land, a house, or a condominium.

When 2 or more people own all of an asset together, that property is “joint property.” You can also say that the property is held in “joint tenancy.” The people who own it are called “joint tenants.”

Joint tenancy can seem like an easy way to get help with managing financial affairs, but it has huge risks. When 2 people own something in joint tenancy, they both own all of it. They each have the right to deal with all of it, any time they want. For example, if you and your child have a joint bank account, your child has the right to remove all of the money from the account without saying anything to you about it. That would be perfectly legal.

Because of how a joint tenancy works, it can leave you very vulnerable to abuse. To learn more about joint property and other options for managing your financial affairs, see the Planning for Illness Information Page and the Financial Issues Between Family Members Information Page.

More information about protecting yourself from abuse

General safety tips

PDF Safety Planning for Seniors: Tips on what you can do to keep yourself safe
Victim Services of Nipissing District
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
 
PDF Mesures de sécurité pour les aînés : Conseils à suivre pour vivre en sécurité
Victim Services of Nipissing District
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Preventing Abuse of Older Adults
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 5-6.

Web Safety Tips For Seniors
Edmonton Police Service
English

Web Elder abuse resources
Government of Alberta
English

Financial safety


PDF Financial Literacy for Seniors: Recognizing Fraud
Alberta Council on Aging
English

PDF Safety Planning for Seniors: Tips on what you can do to keep yourself safe
Victim Services of Nipissing District
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Mesures de sécurité pour les aînés : Conseils à suivre pour vivre en sécurité
Victim Services of Nipissing District
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


PDF Avoiding financial abuse
Canadian Bar Association
English

PDF Fraudes financières : non, merci!
Canadian Bar Association
French

PDF Financial Safety Planning: Best Practices for Domestic Violence Service Providers
New York City Domestic Violence Economic Justice Taskforce
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Online safety

Web Seniors Online
Government of Canada
English

Web Les personnes âgées en ligne
Government of Canada
French

Web Safety Tips For Seniors
Edmonton Police Service
English

Web Keeping Senior Citizens Safe Online
New York State Office of Information Technology Services
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Online Dating Scams
Government of Canada
English


PDF Financial Literacy for Seniors: Recognizing Fraud
Alberta Council on Aging
English

Web Scams to Avoid
Clicklaw
English

Planning ahead: Decision-making options and Wills

PDF Elder Abuse: Planning Ahead
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF L'abus fait aux aîné-e-s : Planifier à l'avance
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

PDF Elder Abuse: Let's Talk
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF L'abus fait aux aîné-e-s : Parlons-en
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

PDF Let's Talk: Elder Abuse - Resource Manual
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Parlons-en : L'abus fait aux ainé-e-s - Manuel de ressources
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
French

Web Preventing Abuse
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web How can I prepare for the future and protect myself from abuse? FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

For more information, see the Planning for Illness Information Page and the Planning for Death Information Page.

Provincial Court

Queen's Bench

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