Even if seniors are being abused at home, many would prefer to stay in their own homes or to continue to live with relatives instead of moving into a care home (retirement home) or to a long-term care home. These seniors and their relatives need help to deal with the abuse in the home.
Although no community service deals specifically with elder abuse and neglect, there are many services that can help older people. All of these services can play a role in helping victims of abuse and their families. Staff and volunteers of agencies that provide professional services, community support services, homemaking, and personal support services should know how to recognize elder abuse. They should also know what options and resources are available in their community to help seniors deal with financial, physical, and mental abuse, including information on preventing abuse.
These services can:
- help seniors become more independent, particularly from their abusers,
- provide options to older people who are socially isolated,
- help to lessen the stress between the caregiver and the older person,
- make referrals to special services that help the abuser deal with aggression, anti‑social behavior, or drug and alcohol abuse, and
- support the senior who wants to maintain a relationship with their abuser.
If you are being abused, or if you think someone else is being abused, you can get advice or help from health and social service agencies and other professionals. The following are three good places to start:
Community Information Centers
Community Information Centers can give you advice about the services available in your area. They can also put you in touch with the right agencies and professionals. Your community may have an Elder Abuse Committee that you can contact. You can find your local Community Information Centre listed in your telephone book or visit 211Ontario.ca.
Community legal clinics
Community legal clinics can often give you free legal advice and help. Click here, to find the community legal clinic nearest you.
In Ontario, there is a legal clinic called the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE). ACE specializes in the legal problems and needs of older people. Click here for their contact information.
Community Care Access Centers
Community Care Access Centers (CCACs) are nonprofit corporations that have been set up across Ontario to provide a single and simple access to many services. These services are all called long-term care services.
The 14 Community Care Access Centers are responsible for:
- service information and referral to all long-term care services, including volunteer-based community services,
- case management,
- determination of eligibility for services,
- coordinated service planning and monitoring, and
- placement co-ordination services for long-term care homes.
Long-term care services include a broad range of community, personal support, and health care services that the senior may need on an occasional or ongoing basis. Many of these services can help a victim of abuse live more independently.
These services could also help a senior get emotional support and necessary links to their community.
These services include:
- Professional services, such as nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, dietetics, and speech language pathology services.
- Homemaking services, such as help from trained homemakers with house cleaning, laundry, ironing, shopping, banking, paying bills, planning menus, and preparing meals. This also includes assisting and training someone to carry out these tasks.
- Personal support services that provide physical assistance with the activities of daily living for people who need help because of illness or permanent physical disabilities. This includes assistance with personal hygiene.
If you need or want any long-term care services, you should call the CCAC in your community. The CCAC will either help you directly or refer you to the appropriate service. To contact the CCAC in your area, look under “Community Care Access Centres” in your telephone book, or visit the CCAC web site at www.ccac-ont.ca.
The CCAC case manager will complete an assessment to determine the services a senior needs and is eligible for. After discussing the services with the senior, the case manager will arrange for the type and amount of service to be provided. The CCAC will also provide information and referral to many other services such as:
- community support services, such as meal services, transportation, home help, friendly visiting, security checks, and social and recreational services,
- caregiver support services, and
- special services for people who have impaired vision or hearing.
The CCAC can arrange some of the following services or provide information about them:
Community health services
Community health services are provided by professionals in an older person’s house or apartment. These services are arranged through the CCAC.
These professional services include nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, speech-language pathology, and dietetics. Seniors may also be eligible for medical supplies, equipment, dressing supplies, and prescription drugs.
Professional services can be provided by both nonprofit and commercial agencies in the community. The senior is not charged for professional services arranged through the CCAC.
Victims of elder abuse whose finances have been managed by family members may need help to regain control of their assets and finances. They might also need financial support if their income is not enough to meet their expenses. An older person may be able to get help with financial issues from a lawyer or community legal clinic.
Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement
Old Age Security Pensions are available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents 65 years of age or older who meet Canadian residency requirements. Currently, the maximum Old Age Security benefit is about $550 per month. The amount does not depend on the person’s assets or income.
To get this pension, a senior must apply to Service Canada. For information about applying, contact Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914, or TTY at 1-800-255-4786. You can also visit their website at www.servicecanada.gc.ca.
Seniors who have little or no income besides Old Age Security might be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). It depends on how much income they receive from other sources. Capital assets, such as bank accounts and property, do not affect the amount of the GIS payment, but interest earned on capital assets can.
Currently, the maximum GIS payable is about $750 per month for single people and about $500 for people with spouses (married or common law). A senior who has been separated from their spouse for at least three months can apply to Service Canada to have their GIS based on single status.
Couples who are “involuntarily separated” do not have to wait three months. This includes couples who live apart because one (or both) of them is in a long-term care setting, such as a long-term care home or complex continuing care facility. They can apply for GIS based on single status immediately. There is a special form for this. To obtain a copy, call or go to a Service Canada office (see the contact information above).
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
Seniors in Ontario who are 65 years of age or older and receive the Old Age Security Pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement may also be eligible to receive a small pension from the Ontario Ministry of Revenue. This pension is called the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).
If a senior receives the Guaranteed Income Supplement, Service Canada automatically sends an application for GAINS on behalf of the senior to the Ministry of Revenue. The amount of the benefit depends on the senior’s income from other sources.
Currently, the maximum benefit available is $83 per month. For more information about this benefit, call the Ministry of Revenue at 1-866-668-8297. The TTY number is 1-800-263-7776.
The law says that if a senior does not get enough money for their own support and does not have support from a spouse, they can apply for parental support from an adult child. An adult child has an obligation to support their parents as much as they are capable, according to their parents’ needs, if their parents cared for or supported them in the past. A lawyer or community legal clinic can help older people make this application.
Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
In cases of very serious financial or personal abuse, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) must investigate a report that someone is mentally incapable, is suffering harm, and needs essential help they are not getting.
If necessary, the Public Guardian and Trustee can apply to the court to become the abused person’s Temporary Guardian in order to get them the required help. The court will order temporary guardianship only if it finds the person to be mentally incapable. Even if temporary guardianship is not necessary, the Public Guardian and Trustee can still help the person get access to other services.
To report incidents of serious abuse, contact the OPGT’s Guardianship Investigations Unit at 416-327-6348 or toll-free from outside Toronto at 1-800-366-0335.
For more information about the OPGT’s services, contact the closest office. The OPGT’s main office is in Toronto. They can be reached at 416-314-2800 or 1-800-366-0335. There are also regional offices in Hamilton, London, Ottawa, and Sudbury. To contact the office in your area, look under “Guardianship – Public Guardian and Trustee” in the government blue pages of your phone book, or visit the OPGT website at www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt.