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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Students Aim to Turn Words into Action as Part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day #RespectChallengeMB Campaign

June 17, 2015 - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was recognized in Manitoba on June 15th . While this day typically shines a light the circumstances some of older adults may face, those older adults shared the spotlight with students from across Manitoba – and gladly did so.

This year, through a new province-wide initiative led by Prevent Elder Abuse Manitoba, students were encouraged to show or tell the rest of the community what respect for an older adult means to them. They could do this via social media by tweeting out a respect challenge picture or video, or posting that picture or video on Instagram.

In either case, the post had to be tagged #RespectChallengeMB and 55 students from across the province answered the call.

Two winners were ultimately selected -- Jordan Medeiros from Ecole Golden Gate Middle School and Alea Enns, of Linden Christian School. Alea (pictured below) was in attendance for the official announcement of the contest winners at a special event held at the River Ridge Retirement Residence in North Winnipeg.

She had been researching Elder Abuse for a school project called “Be The Change”, and had this to say in accepting her award (an iPad!!!) to the group of mostly seniors and media assembled at the River Ridge Retirement Residence for the official announcement:

Alea Enns, of Linden Christian School.  shares her story with the residents at River Ridge Retirement Residence.

“When I first heard about elder abuse, I was shocked! How could someone do something like that? I felt like I had to do something, so here I am. You may be wondering why kids should care about this issue? Grandparents and the elderly are kind, generous and loving. They have shaped the world we live in now, so why are we harming them. I know the most important thing that young people can do is have respect. It’s that easy. Some people are quick to judge and don’t treat older adults right!

We can be kind, help them do simple tasks like picking up something off the floor and have a relationship with them. We can build a safe community around them and be close to them, so that they will be able to communicate to someone easily. This is an important topic that the youth need to know about because we can do something about it. We have grandparents. That is how you should treat all elderly people. What love and respect.

Young people need to learn to respect their elders and be educated about elder abuse. The best time to learn good morals are when you are young and impressionable. If you grow up learning and caring about elder abuse you are more likely to speak out about it and never practice it when you are older. We are the next generation and we need to know about this issue. Someday we will be elders. Let’s think about how we want to be treated then! Here are some practical things young people can do.

First we need to spot it. Always be on the lookout for any type of elder abuse.

Second, we need to stand up against elder abuse. It is just like bullying, but maybe even worse extreme. If you see another young person abusing the elderly, confront the abuser, if it is safe to do so!

Third, we need to report it. If you see it, report it to your parents or someone else that you trust. You can also call the local help line dedicated to help with abuse.

Everyone can help. Everyone can take part and have respect for elders. Remember everyone deserves respect!”

A powerful message from a bright young student, that truly resonated with the many seniors and special guests in attendance.

While World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the #RespectChallengeMB have come and gone, there is still plenty of work to be done to curb elder abuse.
With the aging of our population, elder abuse is a problem that is becoming more widespread and is something that all segments of society should be aware of, learn to recognize and TakeAction to prevent.

Elder abuse is any action or inaction by self or others that jeopardizes the health or well-being of any older adult and is divided into three categories:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • financial

Elder abuse is often committed by someone known to the victim, such as a family member, friend, or caregiver. Financial and emotional abuse are two of the most frequently reported forms of elder abuse. It can happen to anyone.

According to various research, approximately four to eight per cent of older adults may experience elder abuse, affecting their health, well-being and independence. All members and sectors of society need to work together to end this unacceptable behaviour.

Preventing and reducing elder abuse starts with knowledge. Raising awareness helps people young and old understand the factors that contribute to the abuse of older adults, how to recognize abuse and where to go for assistance.

Additional information on how to spot and report elder abuse is available on our website.

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