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Personal Injury Law: Elderly Abuse is on the Rise

  • June 10, 2016
  • by WILL DAVIDSON LLP
  • Civil, Elder, elderly abuse, Law, Lawyers, Neglect, nursing home, nursing home negligence, personal injury, Retirement Home, Seniors,

Women yelling at elderly manDid you know that the next twenty years, the number of people aged 65 or over will more than double? In fact, it will increase from almost 2.1 million in 2013 to over 4.5 million in 2036!

As a result the number of Canadians living in nursing homes will increase. One of the main concerns of the rising elderly population is abuse at the hands of staff members at nursing homes. Don’t let your loved ones suffer from elderly abuse.

The elderly population is growing quickly, raising the risk of abuse.

Faced with increasing longevity, Canada is experiencing an unprecedented demographic transformation. In the next twenty years, the number of people aged 65 or over will more than double from about 2.1 million in 2013 to over 4.5 million in 2036. Therefore, it is more important than ever to assess how the Law can prevent or punish the abuse of seniors and intervene, when and if necessary.

The mistreatment of older people can take many forms and can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic class, health status or cultural heritage.

In a multi-cultural society like that of Canada, many who came to Canada as adults from other countries lose the ability to communicate in their language of adoption, further isolating seniors, especially in a vulnerable situation. Research suggests that older immigrants are more at risk because of low levels of education and less access to financial resources, compared to other Canadians. Elderly victims tend to experience abuse differently than other demographic groups. The abuse of seniors causes depression, anxiety, complaints of weakness, and a lower quality of life. Someone known to the victim often inflicts abuse.

Abuse exists in the very places that are expected to protect seniors by their very nature: nursing homes.

Every year in Canada and in many other countries, there are thousands of cases of abuse that occur within the confines of retirement or nursing homes. Typically, few of the hundreds of these facilities report the incidents. In nursing homes, the elderly are potential victims of practices ranging from starvation to assault. In Canada, a noted CTV television investigative program, W5 revealed at least 1,500 cases of staff-to-resident abuse and neglect in nursing homes across Canada in 2013. The researchers suggested that the actual number of cases could only be higher on closer inspection because of a tendency to under-report incidents.

From 1999-2003, a class action lawsuit against the St-Charles Borromée hospital in Montreal revealed just how brutal nursing home and long-term care conditions can become. Family members hid recorders, which captured the staff dispensing verbal and psychological abuse to the elderly residents in their care. It took years to settle the case, which led to a $7 million settlement in 2013.

This is not to suggest that all nursing homes or all nursing home employees are abusive or act improperly. For instance, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union that represents many nursing home workers, blames underfunding and understaffing at long-term care facilities for the abuse. Moreover, there is little independent oversight of the nursing homes to prevent abuse.

There is a thin line separating proper care from abuse.

What is clearer is that abuse quickly escalates. Legal investigations have concluded that rarely is abuse the product of an isolated incident. Abuse begins with minor violations of patients’ rights, which can quickly intensify in number and degree. That is why, if family members suspect something is wrong, they should denounce evidence of improper behaviour promptly, taking legal action if necessary.

Do you suspect elderly abuse is happening to someone you care about? Protect your loved ones today, don’t wait, our lawyers can help.

Reach out to one of our experienced lawyers today at 1-866-840-9002 to discuss your
no-obligation consultation. We serve clients throughout Ontario, with offices in; Toronto, Oakville, Huntsville, Midland, Lindsay, Markham, Orillia, Whitby, Barrie, Bowmanville and Burlington.

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