Langley advocate tackles elder abuse

The provincial government is putting $2.6 million into elder abuse prevention, with the efforts headed up by a Langley woman.

On Thursday, Daryl Plecas, parliamentary secretary for seniors, announced the funding for the B.C. Association of Community Response Networks (BCCRN).

The group works with numerous local agencies to help prevent elder abuse and educate the public.

“It’s a huge amount of money, but it’s a huge province,” said Sherry Baker, executive director of BCCRN. Baker is also a member of Langley Township’s Seniors Advisory Committee.

The association works with everyone from police to Fraser Health, she said. Their mandate is to try to intervene before there is abuse or neglect, and to work on education to stop it from happening at all.

According to Plecas, an estimated four to 10 per cent of all seniors could experience neglect or abuse, whether physical, emotional, financial, or sexual.

Elder abuse is significantly under-reported, noted Plecas.

Leanne Lange, an elder abuse specialist with Fraser Health, said that getting people to talk about elder abuse can be difficult.

“It’s uncomfortable and it can be upsetting,” she said.

She recalled a recent case in which her office got a call about an elderly man who had been dropped off by his family at a small trailer, apparently to live by himself.

When Fraser Health workers arrived, they found he had no phone, medicine, or money. He had difficulty getting out of the trailer, but the only toilet was an outhouse.

Because he had health problems, he was taken to a hospital, and after he was given medical and social support there, he was transitioned into assisted living facility.

The announcement came following Monday’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Plecas noted that there are approximately 750,000 seniors in B.C., and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. While most live independently, the goal of funding like this is to end elder abuse.

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