The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) is committing its efforts to identifying and protecting older adults at risk in the community. Along with local partners, CMHA WW is launching the Guelph-Wellington Gatekeeper Project, an initiative aimed at helping vulnerable older adults who are at risk of abuse within our community.
According to Elder Abuse Ontario (EAO), as many as one in ten older adults will experience some form of abuse or neglect each year. Based on those studies, there are between 40,000 and 200,000 seniors in Ontario alone who have experienced or are experiencing abuse.
“Gatekeepers can help us make our community stronger, safer, and one that shows we care for seniors.”
The Gatekeeper Project is based on the principle that the care of a vulnerable citizen is everyone’s responsibility and helping each other contributes to a better society. As part of the initiative, the collaborative is offering workshops to local community members, empowering them to be change-makers by helping to identify older adults who may be at risk of elder abuse, and teaching them how to make a referral to help older adults in need. Gatekeepers can be anyone: volunteers, employees of local businesses, neighbours – anyone who has contact with vulnerable older adults in the community.
“It’s prevention; it’s intervention; it’s education,” says Cathy Sturdy-Smith, Manager, Seniors Services – Specialized Geriatric Services at CMHA WW. “Part of our hope for this program is that early identification of people who are at risk occurs and that’s where we can make a difference. Neighbours are in a great position to do that.”
Workshops are offered for free to the community and will run until March of 2018, providing training on risk factors for vulnerable older adults, forms of elder abuse, and the role of Gatekeepers.
“This project is unique because it educates community members to play a part and be the change for social good,” says Manon Germain, Guelph-Wellington Gatekeeper Project Facilitator. “Gatekeepers can help us make our community stronger, safer, and one that shows we care for seniors.”
- Between 2-10% of older adults will experience some form of abuse or neglect each year. (EAO)
- Worldwide, over 15% of people 60 years and older are subjected to abuse. (World Health Organization)
- Only one in 24 cases of elder abuse are reported. (WHO)
- Financial abuse is the most common type of elder abuse in first and second-world countries.
- Canadian seniors reported losing over $24-million to financial abuse in 2015. (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre)
About the Guelph-Wellington Gatekeeper Project
The Guelph-Wellington Gatekeeper Project educates local community members to be change-makers by helping to identify vulnerable and at-risk older adults. A collaboration between CMHA WW and 11 local partners, the initiative strives to identify socially isolated, under serviced, vulnerable older adults who would not typically be supported through existing referral mechanisms, by increasing community awareness of the vulnerable older adult and developing partnerships between sectors that do not currently exist.
About the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington
CMHA WW is Canada’s largest CMHA chapter and provides a full care system for those with addictions, mental health or developmental needs. CMHA WW serves everyone from children to adults to seniors, all under one roof. It is also the lead partner in Here 24/7, the single access point to the entire mental health, addictions and crisis sector in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.