IH launches a new number for reporting elder abuse

Interior Health has launched a new, confidential toll-free number to report the mistreatment of older adults.

“Research shows that seniors are the most likely to suffer physical, psychological or financial abuse or neglect from a family member,” Health Minister Terry Lake said in a statement Monday, June 13. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day reminds us to treat everyone, at any age, with dignity and respect. There is no excuse for abuse.”

Anyone within the Interior Health region who has concerns regarding elder abuse can call 1-844-870-4754 to be connected with a staff member trained to respond to such situations. The phone number and corresponding email address ihadultgaurdianship@interiorhealth.ca were launched last month. However, you should always call 9-1-1 if the situation is an emergency and you require immediate help.)

Elder abuse takes many forms, including physical, financial, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, and neglect or self-neglect. It can affect anyone, regardless of their health, financial background or social standing. It can occur anywhere and anytime, whether an individual is living independently, with family, or in a residential care home or other facility.

“The new toll-free number is one more tool we’re providing to assist one of the most vulnerable populations,” IH Chaiman Erwin Malzer said in the statement. “As designated agencies under the Adult Guardianship Act, health authorities across B.C. have a role and responsibility to keep seniors safe. Nobody should have to suffer silently. We all need to stand up and speak out on behalf of those who may be unable to advocate for themselves.”

Almost 16 per cent of B.C.’s population is over 65-years-old. Within Interior Health, that number is higher, with more than 22 per cent of residents over 65, and climbing. As our society ages, it is increasingly important to be able to recognize elder abuse and give people the tools they need to stop it.

The BC Association of Community Response Networks, which supports a local community-based response to the abuse, neglect and self-neglect of vulnerable adults, applauds the launch of the new phone line.