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Elder abuse is harm caused to someone over the age of 65, by someone in a position of trust or authority. The abuser may be a family member, neighbour, nurse, landlord, caregiver or substitute decision maker.

It is estimated that between four to 10 percent of the population are victims of elder abuse. In Toronto, nearly 15% of the population is over the age of 65; which means, in Toronto up to 40,000 seniors are potential victims of elder abuse.

Crime prevention and public awareness are necessary to reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for seniors in our society.

There are four types of elder abuse:
  • Financial: Misuse of the Power of Attorney or where someone has been dishonest in the use of a senior’s money or a senior’s assets.
  • Emotional/Psychological: An action or comment which would cause emotional anguish, fear or diminishing of self-esteem.
  • Physical: Any act of violence causing injury or physical discomfort (this includes sexual assault and pharmacological abuse).
  • Neglect: Intentional failure of the care provider to provide caregiving responsibilities.

For more information on Senior Safety, visit the Elder Abuse section of the Toronto Police Service Crime Prevention website at

Crime prevention tips

  • Know your rights and ask for advice; when necessary seek assistance from a dependable person.
  • Check with a trusted professional regarding important legal or financial decisions.
  • Choose the right person as your Power of Attorney should you become incapable and dependent on others for help.
  • Be cautious about who you permit to reside with you, especially those with drug, alcohol, financial or psychological problems.
  • Use direct deposit for your cheques.
  • Avoid social isolation; stay connected and engaged.
  • Use aware of and use the available support services in your community.

Possible indicators of abuse or neglect

  • Financial: Power of Attorney has been changed, lost jewellery or other valuables, signing legal documents that are not understood, no money for necessities.
  • Emotional/Psychological: Helplessness, hesitation to talk openly, fear or agitation, depression.
  • Physical: Cuts, bruises, welts, unexplained injuries, broken bones, burns, not seeking medical attention when warranted.
  • Neglect: Inadequate clothing, malnourishment, dehydration, untreated medical condition or injury, poor skin condition or hygiene, lack of needed medical appliances.

Why abuse or neglect goes unreported

  • Victims believe that the Police or other agencies cannot help.
  • Victims fear being removed from their homes and placed in a care facility.
  • Victims do not know their rights.
  • Victims do not speak English and believe that the Police are unable to understand them.
  • Victims are ashamed that their family or care provider has mistreated them.
  • Victims are unaware that there are available support services.
  • Victims believe that it is personal, it is not a matter for the Police.
  • Other people believe that it is a private matter and of no concern to them.
  • Other people do not want to get involved.

Elder abuse may happen to any older person regardless of gender, culture, race, financial status, mental or physical condition. Abuse may occur more frequently, however, to older adults who are socially isolated.

If you are a victim, or a witness, of elder abuse, report the incident to someone you trust:
  • IN CASE OF EMERGENCY or a crime in progress, call 9-1-1.
  • To report a non-emergency crime, call the Police at (416) 808-2222.
  • Talk to a trusted family member.
  • To report anonymously, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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For more information on Senior Safety, visit the Elder Abuse section of the Toronto Police Service Crime Prevention website at