Lethbridge police say there’s a certain type of elder abuse on the rise in the city amid an aging population and growing need for senior services in southern Alberta.
“Physical abuse is something that does happen, but primarily we are seeing financial,” said Tanya Purdy-Fischer with the Lethbridge Elder Abuse Network (LEARN).
Senior fraud hits close to home for Dan Walton, a former police officer in Lethbridge.
“It was in regards to a relative I had that was dying of cancer, and had a special friend that showed up at hospital and tried to marry him on his death bed, and tried to secure all financial assets,” Walton said.
City officials have taken a step to eliminate elder abuse: LEARN was developed to focus on the problem.
“LEARN has been around since 2008. Everyone was doing it off the side of their desk. It’s been the last few years that we have had a case manager,” said Walton, who works as part of LEARN.
On Wednesday, dozens of seniors made their way around the Civic Centre Park track wearing purple to raise awareness for World Elder Abuse Day.
“When my mom was in a nursing home…I did see abuse,” Lethbridge senior Helen Sullivan explained. “It can be verbal and neglect. There were a few that were neglected. Things that should have been done, but never were.”
Lethbridge police investigate around 12 cases a month of elder abuse. Officers said the majority of issues are regarding inheritance and estate planning.
“Last year in 2015 we had approximately 100 referrals. Not all referrals end up becoming cases that we actually further on, but we took 100 calls that we went out and investigated.”