Elder Abuse in Canada: Definition, Statistics, and Prevention

Elder abuse is a complicated and multi-faceted problem. In Canada, elder abuse is any action or inaction by someone that causes harm or distress to an older person, especially those in power or authority. In cases like these, a Canadian human rights lawyer may be involved.

This blog post will briefly discuss what elder abuse means, go over some statistics, and give tips on how to prevent it.

What Exactly Is Elder Abuse in Canada?

Elder abuse can take many different forms. It can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or social in nature. It can also happen in any setting – whether in the home, at an elder care facility, or out in the community.

Some common examples of elder abuse include:

  • Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, or restraining an older person.
  • Emotional Abuse: Yelling, threatening, or verbally assaulting an older person.
  • Financial Abuse: Stealing property or money from an older person, using their money without permission, or pressuring them to sign financial documents.
  • Sexual Abuse: Sexually touching an older person without their consent or forcing them to view or participate in sexual acts.
  • Social Abuse: Isolating an older person from family or friends or treating them in a humiliating or degrading manner. Elder abuse can also happen when an older person is not given the proper care and assistance to meet their basic needs.

What Does Statistics Say?

Senior abuse is a serious problem in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, there were over 14,100 reported cases of elder abuse in 2019 alone, wherein 55% of them were men. This number is likely even higher since many cases go unreported. 

What’s surprising is that more than 4,000 (32%) of these seniors were victimized by a family member. Police also found out that the abuse is perpetrated by their child (34%), spouse (26%), and sibling (12%). Additionally, in 2019, family violence occurs more in the rural area than in the urban setting, with an average of 98 vs. 65 per 100,000 population.

The Public Health Agency of Canada 2014 said that elder abuse could profoundly impact victims, including loneliness and depression, financial problems, increased dependency, and even shorter life span.

What Can You Do to Prevent Elder Abuse?

If you suspect an elderly is being abused, you must speak up. You can contact your local police department, 911, or elder abuse hotline. For example, in Nova Scotia, you can talk to Senior Abuse Information and Referral Line. Though this department does not investigate, they can tell you resources in your community.

There are also a number of steps you can take to help prevent elder abuse from happening in the first place:

  • Educate yourself and other people around you about elder abuse and how to spot it.
  • Build strong relationships with older people in your life and check in on them regularly.
  • Be an advocate for older people’s rights and stand up against ageism.
  • Encourage older people to speak up if they’re being abused and let them know they have options and support available to them. For instance, you can tell them they can hire slip and fall accident lawyers if their landlords or living facility don’t take responsibility for their safety.
  • Encourage older people to stay active and connected to their community. Make sure they have access to the resources and support they need.


Elder or senior abuse is a serious problem in Canada that often goes unnoticed. You should be aware of the signs of abuse against seniors to help prevent it from happening or get help for those being abused. If you suspect someone abusing an elderly, don’t hesitate to seek help.

You can ask for help from the police, 911, your local elder abuse hotline, or even lawyers (such as this insurance claims lawyer) who can represent you or the concerned senior in court if the case goes that far. The most important thing is to ensure that the seniors in your life are safe and protected from abuse.

Leslie Robinson

Leslie Robinson