Reading the Signs: Elder Abuse in Canada

On any given day, as many as half a million Canadian seniors may be experiencing some form of abuse at the hands of family, friends, or caregivers. Elder abuse is not an issue that has garnered widespread attention but as the baby boomer generation ages, the incidence of abuse is also expected to grow. Recognizing what constitutes abuse and understanding the signs of abuse is key to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

In response to this increasingly prevalent issue, the Ontario Provincial Police has produced the Elder Abuse online course. Designed to build awareness and help police officers recognize, interact, and respond to incidents of elder abuse, this course is now available to the community at large via CPKN.

"Elder abuse affects people in all walks of life in communities across the country," says Sergeant Robin Sanders, Seniors Assistance Team Coordinator with the OPP's Crime Prevention Section. "Reports of crimes against seniors are on the rise in Canada and it's important that police officers and other members of the community are able to provide an effective line of defense against those crimes."

Developed in association with subject matter experts from Durham Region and Durham Regional Police Service, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and Law Enforcement Agencies Protecting Seniors (LEAPS), Elder Abuse examines various forms of elder abuse including physical, emotional, financial, and neglect. Using video-based scenarios, this two hour course describes a variety of situations in both domestic and institutional settings. Incorporating a variety of perspectives, it addresses issues such as:

  • Theft by Power of Attorney;
  • Neglect by a family caregiver;
  • Resident-to-resident assault in a care facility;
  • Hording, dimensia and self-neglect;
  • Double dosing and drug theft in a care facility; and
  • Domestic violence.

"This course was developed for police officers, says Sergeant Sanders, "but we hope that it will also be used by members of the helping professions, seniors' advocacy groups, and individuals. The more informed peopleare, the greater the impact we can have on the issue of elder abuse."

For more information about this course, please visit


This article was originally featured in the Spring 2013 edition of the Point.Click.Learn. e-newsletter.