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Local discussion hoping to shed light on prominence of elder abuse in Lethbridge

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge event sheds light on prominence of elder abuse' Lethbridge event sheds light on prominence of elder abuse
WATCH ABOVE: Elder abuse is a widespread problem, and southern Alberta is no exception. But one local information session is hoping to shed some light on just how prevalent this issue really is. Demi Knight reports – Sep 6, 2018

Elder abuse is an issue affecting thousands across the entire country, and southern Alberta is no exception.

Hoping to shed some light on the growing issue, the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs held a lunchtime discussion, showing just how prevalent the problem is here in Lethbridge.

“It’s a secret,” said Lorraine Fitzgerald, a former Psychiatrist and attendee of the SACPA session.

“People know it’s going on, neighbours know it’s going on,  but nobody wants to open the topic.”

READ MORE: Suspected elder abuse leaves 85-year-old man in hospital, son faces charges

It’s a conversation Fitzgerald said isn’t often openly discussed. However, that topic was top of mind for many on Thursday.

The rates of elder abuse remain prominent across the entire country. Statistics Canada estimates seniors will make up 25 per cent Canada’s entire population by 2063.

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“The abuse can come from neighbours, it can come from store clerks, it can come from services, it’s all over the place and we just have to be aware of it,” Fitzgerald said.

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The prevalence of this issue doesn’t seem to be slowing down. According to the Southern Alberta Council, more than 1,300 residents in Lethbridge over the age of 65 will experience some form of abuse in 2018.

The lunchtime session highlighted the warning signs of seniors being mistreated — which can include physical, emotional and financial abuse.

“You may see a change in behaviour, you may see a situation where they can’t afford new glasses or a hearing aid, you may see them losing weight,” Joanne Blinco, with Lethbridge Elder Abuse Response Network said.

“These are all signs of elder abuse.”

READ MORE: B.C. man accused of taking $300,000 from elder relative

Statistics Canada data also showed 1 in 8 Canadian elders experience abuse each year. Speakers emphasized the importance of speaking up when witnessing elder abuse — calling it one of the most important steps one can take in stopping the growing problem.

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