By Stephanie Melnyk
Community Response Network Coordinator
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and we wear purple to bring attention to this increasingly serious problem. If you have grandparents or great-grandparents who are still alive, you will understand how it is natural to become more dependent as we age. But, with this increased dependence comes an increased risk of being mistreated. As a community we can reduce this risk by looking out for one another and connecting people to any help they require.
Would you be surprised to learn that there are, on average, two new reports of elder abuse or neglect every month in Revelstoke? According to the Ministry of Health, 10% of all seniors in B.C have experienced some form of abuse. In reality, this percentage is likely much higher as the abuse of seniors is significantly under-reported. Abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, financial or sexual. In Revelstoke, financial abuse is one of the most common forms and may be as simple as an adult child making financial decisions on behalf of the older parent without consulting them.
As a community, we can work together to improve lives. Most of the time, it is clear someone is struggling but it’s not obvious how to get them the help they need. Unfortunately, Revelstoke does not have a centralized 3-1-1 info number like larger cities have. Instead we need to all act as a referral service and connect those in need with the services and programs that are available.
For the last three years, the Revelstoke Community Response Network (CRN) has been offering free “Gatekeeper” training sessions about how to make referrals in Revelstoke on behalf of people who are struggling. The seminars were designed for businesses so employees know what to do when they meet someone who needs support beyond the scope of their work. This type of training is important due to the very fact that the majority of people don’t self-refer. Having a friend, neighbour or community member who knows how to help is the key. Ultimately, we want as many community members to know how to make referrals on behalf of others. If you or your organization are interested in booking a free training session, please email email@example.com or visit www.bccrns.ca for more information about the Gatekeeper Program and about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.