Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 1, 1999
Sign of Hope helps the elderly
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Bea Gleason always thought grandparents were sacred people deserving respect, so it was always unfathomable for her to think that one could talk back to them much less hit them.
But the verbal and physical abuse towards grandparents and the elderly are too real and Gleason, a resource coordinator for Catholic Social Services' Elderly Adult Resource Services (EARS), has heard her fair share of stories to prove it.
"We had a grandson who was sitting with his grandparents and he would start wrecking things if they didn't answer him in the right way," said Gleason.
"It's sad to see how afraid these (elderly) people were. This grandfather was pacing back and forth scared that his (grandson) would come back and hurt him."
"Flourishing" is not the word to describe the number of cases of elderly abuse in the city, but there is a definite increase. EARS is trying to keep such abuse from becoming a widespread problem.
EARS was featured as part of the kick-off breakfast for CSS's 16th annual Sign of Hope campaign Oct. 26 at St. Andrew's Centre. The event attracted more than 200 people.
The campaign aims to raise more than $1.3 million for the 119 programs operated by Catholic Social Services. Programs range from safe houses for street kids to settlement counselling for new immigrants.
The campaign runs Oct. 25 to Dec. 18.
"Ninety-one cents of each dollar goes towards the programs," said Mona Duckett, chairperson for this year's campaign.
EARS began a decade ago and is now part of the city's Elder Abuse Intervention Team, a collaboration of CSS, the Edmonton Police Service and social work staff from Community Services.
The program offers risk assessment, counselling and referral services. It is the only program in Edmonton mandated to offer these services for elderly adults in abusive situations.
"The most common is financial and emotional abuse," said Al Pierog, president of CSS. "But we are seeing an increase in physical and emotional abuse."
Pierog added that the abuse is often at the hands of family members or caregivers.
According to a national survey, at least four per cent of elderly adults have suffered from a form of abuse.
"If that is the case, an estimated 5,500 seniors in Edmonton are or have been abused," said Pierog.
The EARS program averages 40 calls a month and has served more than 900 seniors since it began.
Because of funding from the Sign of Hope campaign two years ago, EARS increased its level of service from 14 to 64 hours a week.
For more information on EARS or the Sign of Hope campaign call 439-4673.