An information booth set up outside CIBC by an inter-agency of seniors rights advocates was passing out literature on how to avoid Elder Financial Abuse June 26.
Organized by Inuvik Victim Services, Public Health and volunteers, the booth set up on a Pension pay day but also used to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is June 15.
“We come together to address issues that no one else does,” said community health representative Crystal Navratil.
“We really try to honour different awareness days,” added Sheila O’Kane, a volunteer.
Elder Financial abuse is the most commonly reported form of elder abuse in Canada — essentially its exploiting trust a senior might have towards an organization, family member or other group to acquire money, property or even power of attorney or legal titles.
But it’s not just stealing. Financial abuse can take many forms, including pressuring a senior to work for little or no money, including caring for children and grandchildren or providing food or shelter without being paid, even pressuring an elder or grandparent for money could be considered elder abuse.
The inter-agency notes that far too often, the abuser is someone in a close position to the victim — they can include spouses, relatives, friends and neighbours or even caregivers.
Warning signs to look for include chronic asks for money on days like pension pay day or pressuring for money after doing someone a favour. Usually financial abuse takes the form of a pattern, happening over a long period of time.
Safeguards people can do include keeping financial information in a safe and secure place, keeping a record of money given away, particularly noting if it is a loan or a gift and being careful who you open a joint-bank account with.
Because financial abuse often starts after a health crisis or the death of a spouse, getting your own legal advice instead of letting relatives handle your legal affairs, or having someone you know you can trust look over important documents before you sign them is also advised, as well as having a power of attorney prepared in advance in case an illness makes you unable to take care of yourself.
Help is also available. Among the resources passed out to seniors was a list of community resources someone could reach out to. Alternatively, the local bank or credit union could point out local resources, or even a doctor. As a final option, the police are also available to help and provide advice.