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New study gives shocking snapshot of elder abuse in Canada

A newly released study on elder abuse gives a disturbing snapshot about a crime that is often cloaked in silence.

More than three-quarters of a million Canadian seniors suffered some form of abuse last year, be it physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse and neglect. That is more than double since a similar study was done back in 1989.

One reason for the sharp increase could be a rise in financial abuse which is the second highest form of abuse behind psychological abuse.

The study found adult children or grandchildren are responsible for 37 per cent of financial abuse while 10 per cent of financial abuse is committed by a stranger.

A spouse, child or grandchild is also more than likely to be the perpetrator of most kinds of elder abuse, according to the study.

“It’s a hidden problem, it’s a silent problem, people don’t want to talk about it because they’re upset,” said the study’s author Lynn McDonald. “It’s their family they love, their kids, that may steal their money or beat them. As a result, they suffer in silence.”

The study also found victims of elder abuse are more likely to have been abused as a child, suffer a high rate of depression and they are more likely to be female.

Seven per cent of seniors live in nursing homes and many advocates believe the prevalence of abuse is even higher among that group.