How we can protect seniors from financial abuse – @jillreports interviews @FontaineNW

A report commissioned by Vancity Credit Union recently made headlines when it revealed that more than a third of seniors experience some form of financial abuse, often by their children or grandchildren.

The report – Suffering in Silence: The financial abuse of seniors in British Columbia – found that most seniors don’t report the abuse to the police or even other family members.

Vancity first investigated the issue of financial abuse of seniors three years ago, and found that little has changed since.

BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine

Appearing on The Jill Bennet Show on Sunday, BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine said that as a member of the Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, he has been working to raise awareness about the issue for several years.

“Collectively, as a community, we have to take that report and turn it into action to reduce the level of financial abuse moving forward,” Fontaine said.

That the financial abuse of seniors is perpetrated by family members makes it difficult to crack down on. The abuse is underreported because seniors are afraid to report their family members fearing the consequences of police intervention.

Although the findings in the report are shocking, Fontaine said, financial abuse of seniors is more prevalent in our society than we think, and education is the best tool to reduce its incidence.

“We have to talk about it—the fact that its happening, that its not uncommon, that it’s not something that happens to a very small minority of people,” he said.

It should also be easier for seniors to access services—when they’re facing abuse, they should know how and where they can report it.

“It’s also important for family members who have seen this abuse to take action, and not stay silent because oftentimes there is this code of silence when nobody wants to turn in someone from their family for fear that they might be harmed, ” he added.

Fontaine said he’s encouraged by the government, law enforcement and financial institutions working to reduce the levels of financial abuse of seniors, but added that there needs to be more research, awareness and support to combat the problem.

“We’re just at the beginning of this in terms of getting enough people to quickly identify what’s going on, report it, and take action.”

Listen to the full interview below.