It’s a sad truth that seniors are often targeted by abusers, especially if they are isolated or dependent on someone else for their care. Now a new Act of Parliament aims to help protect older Canadians from crimes committed against them specifically because of their age.
Protecting Canada’s Seniors
The new legislation is known as the Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act. The newly finalized Act is due to come into effect 30 days after it received royal assent on December 14. It amends the Criminal Code so that a victim’s age is taken into consideration for sentencing purposes. If a person’s advanced age, or other personal circumstances, means that the crime had more of an effect on them than it would have otherwise, this will now be considered an “aggravating factor” in the crime.
But what exactly constitutes senior abuse? It’s a broad term that covers everything from physical and emotional abuse to neglect or even financial abuse. Of these, financial abuse is the most common type of senior abuse, but it may be the hardest to spot. Theft and scams from strangers are the most obvious forms for it to take, but financial abuse can also include more subtle situations like being pressured by your friends or family members to lend money, alter your will, or allow them to live in your home without paying their own way.
Protecting Yourself and Seniors You Know
If you feel someone is behaving in an abusive way towards you or a senior you know, it’s essential to seek help. It doesn’t matter whether the abuse is physical or emotional; everyone, regardless of age, is entitled to be treated with respect, and should be able to live without fear for one’s safety or well being.
Steps can be taken to change the situation. You can always contact the police, and if you have questions or require specialized assistance, there are a number of resources available across Canada.
Then there’s outright criminal behaviour. Unfortunately, scammers disproportionately target seniors, and fraud constitutes the number one crime against older Canadians. Under the new legislation, the victim’s age will be taken into consideration if the con artist or company was deliberately targeting seniors. But while this may help to curb some of the scams designed to take advantage of seniors, it’s still essential to protect yourself. The government offers more information on fraud against seniors and how to avoid it on their website.
Regardless of the type of abuse, and whether or not the abuser is familiar or even related to the victim, it’s important that seniors reach out for help if they believe they are being targeted. This new law should make it easier for older Canadians to receive justice if they are being victimized because of their age.