An audience diverse in age and background got a leg up on elder abuse recently.
“We have to be intercultural when we look at the issues involved in elder mistreatment,” said RECAA coordinator Anne Caines. “It occurs in all cultural communities and all classes.”
RECAA’s full name is a mouthful: Ressources Ethnoculturelles Contre L’Abus envers les Aîné(e)s. The principal work the group does, however, is not. Its members visit seniors’ groups and, without using words, act out scenes of elder abuse.
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Following the performances, audience members discuss their reactions. “It really is a safe environment for elders to speak out about their issues,” Caines said.
RECAA began in 2003 and includes members from various cultural origins. Caines noted seniors from cultural communities are more vulnerable to elder abuse and less likely to seek help from available resources. The reasons vary, she said, and include language barriers and having loyalties to cultural groups that approach ageing differently from the mainstream. “They may see that the system is not sensitive to the way they may resolves elder abuse issues,” Caines said.
For World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a UN-recognized day that began in 2006, RECAA members joined members of Westmount’s Contactivity for a “flash mob.” About 60 people gathered to watch the choreographed dance, and some dancers raised banners calling for “Respect,” “Community,” and “Love.”
The 5 à 7 featured poetry, and invitees from various seniors’ groups. A Concordia University group called ACT, or Aging Communications Technologies, joined RECAA to host the June 19 event.
Elder abuse includes negligence, violence, fraud, humiliation, and disrespect. It usually happens between people who know each other, Caines said.
Quebec’s hotline for seniors experiencing abuse is 1-888-489-2287.
Caines also recommended SAVA Centre-Ouest, a shelter that provides support for seniors dealing with abuse, whose volunteers are retired professionals like nurses, social workers, and judges: “People who know the system and can help.” SAVA’s free, confidential support line for seniors is 514-903-3550.