Crime and Abuse Against Seniors:
A Review of the Research Literature With Special Reference to the Canadian Situation


4.10 Summary

  • Each year, about 10 percent of Canadian seniors are victims of crime. The vast majority of these are property crimes.
  • Up to one percent of Canadian seniors experience violent crimes or physical abuse.
  • About 4 5 percent of seniors report experiencing some form of abuse from the age of 65 on.
  • Financial abuse/exploitation and emotional abuse appear to be the most prevalent forms of abuse.
  • The overall prevalence of elder abuse in Canada is similar to the levels found in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
  • Seniors are less likely to report being victims of crime or spousal abuse than are non-seniors.
  • Many crimes against seniors are not reported to police. Seniors often report crimes to health professionals, community groups, and financial institutions rather than to law enforcement agencies.
  • Senior victims of violence usually know their attackers, who are equally as likely to be family members as friends or acquaintances.
  • Males report more incidents of violence than do females. While men report more violence at the hands of acquaintances and strangers, women report more family-related incidents.
  • In general, seniors at more advanced ages report lower rates of violence than do younger seniors.
  • Less than 10 percent of senior victims of violence suffer significant injuries. Incidents involving family are more likely to result in injuries than are those involving friends, acquaintances or strangers.
  • Physical force, rather than weapons, are most often used in violent attacks on seniors.
  • The perpetrators of violent acts against seniors are usually males and tend, on average, to be older than those who commit these acts against younger people. This is so because abusive spouses of seniors also tend to be seniors and abusive children of seniors are usually middle-aged people.
  • Seniors were more likely than non-seniors to stay home due to the fear of crime, whereas non-seniors were more likely to alter their behaviour in some other way in order to protect themselves (e.g., to take self-defense courses).

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