OPS: Check on seniors during pandemic

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Elder Abuse Unit is concerned seniors continue to be at risk of ongoing isolation during the pandemic. 

“Although physical distancing is key to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we encourage people to maintain open communication (e.g. phone or video calls, and emails, etc.) with older family members, friends and neighbours,” the OPS released in a statement. “We are all in this together. To support each other, start with a wellness check of an aging family member and/or friend. That conversation can make a difference and break the isolation.”

If you know of a vulnerable senior who is struggling with mental health, or needing to obtain groceries, health care, or social services, you can contact 211 to connect with a number of social services in Ontario or any of these local community resources. The Ottawa Distress Centre at 613-238-3311 or 1-866-996-0991, is also available 24/7 for mental health support and resources.

Elder abuse is defined as any act or gesture that harms or threatens to harm an older person (65 or older). Abuse is any single or repeated act, threat, lack of appropriate action compromising the safety or wellbeing of an older person. It includes physical, sexual, financial and psychological abuse as well as neglect.

The OPS has an Elder Abuse Information Line at 613-236-1222, ext. 2400, a non-emergency information line managed by the Victim Crisis Unit crisis counselors who provide information, crisis counseling and resources to vulnerable persons and victims of elder abuse.  For emergencies where the safety of a senior is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. 

“We recognize that the risk for elder abuse can increase during these uncertain times,” the OPS said. “If you have concerns relating to an older person in a retirement home or a long-term care home, speak with the Director of Care. If the concerns are not resolved, you can make a complaint to the governing bodies for the Home (i.e. Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care). We understand that victims of elder abuse may not want police involvement. Although we encourage all incidents to be reported, there are various community resources available online in cases where victims or families choose not to contact police.”

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.

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