ARCHIVED - September 2010 - Social Media in Elder Abuse Prevention



This edition of the Elder Abuse E-Bulletin is on how social media networks can be used to support efforts to prevent the abuse of older adults. Social media uses web-based technology to provide information and increase awareness on various issues. It also can be used as a tool to encourage dialogue among front-line workers looking for support and professional guidance on how to prevent elder abuse.

The Elder Abuse E-Bulletin is an e-newsletter on addressing and preventing the abuse of older adults in Canada. It is produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as part of its role under the Government of Canada's Federal Elder Abuse Initiative (FEAI). The E-Bulletin uses the terms “abuse of older adults”, “elder abuse” and “abuse of seniors” interchangeably throughout this edition.

For more information on the Government of Canada’s elder abuse initiatives, visit or call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232). For a teletypewriter device (TTY), call 1-800-926-9105.

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Fast Facts

Rates of Seniors Using the Internet and Social Media Networks

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

A recent paper indentified that an increasing number of seniors are using the internet and different forms of social media. According to Social Media: 2. Who Uses Them? (PDF Document - 215 KB - 8 pages):

  • Seniors are the fastest growing group of internet users;
  • In 2007, 45% of those aged 65 to 75 and 21% of those 75 years and older used the internet;
  • Nine percent of persons in the age group of 55 to 64 contributed content to the internet by blogging, participating in discussions groups or uploading photos; and
  • Forty-four percent of persons aged 55 and over who used the internet had a social network profile compared to 86% of those aged 18 to 34 years.

This trend suggests that there is an opportunity to rely more on internet and social media networks to raise awareness about elder abuse and existing support services.

Source: Social Media: 2. Who Uses Them? (PDF Document - 215 KB - 8 pages), Library of Parliament Background Paper

Feature Article

Social Media Networks as a Way of Increasing Awareness and Developing Communities of Practice in the Field of Elder Abuse

About Social Media

Social media networks give individuals and groups a forum where they can communicate, collaborate and share information. Different social media include:

  • Blogs let people post personal and professional opinions;
  • Facebook is a social networking website where you invite friends to join your network so they can post messages and view photos;
  • Twitter is a messaging service that allows you to send short messages and updates.

They are useful in that they are often free-of-charge and are accessible across space and time.

Promising Approaches

A recent study by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Division of Aging and Seniors on promising approaches in the elder abuse field found that there is a need for ongoing communication among front-line workers. Many service providers, particularly those who work with older adults in rural and remote communities, experience professional isolation. To lessen feelings of isolation, social media tools can be used to share information as well as provide support and professional guidance.

Social media networks related to elder abuse include:

  • Exploring the Space Between is a community of practice, experimental blog. It features pieces of writing by peers that reflect and invite interaction on difficult practice questions.
  • CHNET-Works! is a national web based (webinar) conference system for health professionals. The system offers audio, visual and 'chat functions' and the ability to save presentations on its website.
  • USTREAM TV (Channel: BCACRNS Conf—phac) is a live-streaming resource. With this kind of tool, a researcher can present research in one location and a program host can be in another location. USTREAM TV can be used at community, national and international levels.

Social media is a growing field which offers multiple opportunities for front-line workers and others who work in the area of elder abuse to better connect.

Content for this article provided by April Struthers, BC Association of Community Response Networks.

New Developments

The Federal, Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Forum of Ministers Responsible for Seniors launched a series of eight fact sheets on financial planning and protection on June 15, 2010, in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEEAD). To read or download the fact sheets visit:

Updates from Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Event: World Day… Five Years Later

June 15, 2010

The Ontario Seniors' Secretariat, Province of Ontario, supported by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the International Federation on Ageing, hosted a one-day conference on elder abuse on June 15, 2010.

This event featured:

  • interactive presentations by youth from across Canada;
  • projects on how to increase awareness of elder abuse in schools and communities; and
  • a panel on elder abuse issues and public education.


Manitoba Elder Abuse Strategy: Additional Component to its Safe Suite Program

Age and Opportunity Inc. received funding from the Government of Manitoba to secure an additional suite in the Safe Suite Program, as part of the province’s Elder Abuse Strategy. This program provides temporary housing for older adults who are fleeing abuse. Residents also receive counselling services, furnished accommodations for up to 60 days, a personal response program of a hospital, and practical assistance with arranging financial, legal, housing and support services.


The Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism received funding in the amount of $99,867, under the Elder Abuse Awareness component of the New Horizons for Seniors Program for its project entitled, Saskatchewan Senior Abuse Network. Through this project, the organization will develop a provincial intervention strategy and hold regular network roundtable meetings to coordinate efforts to reduce elder abuse in Saskatchewan.

Resource Corner

Defining and Measuring Elder Abuse and Neglect - Preparatory Work Required to Measure the Prevalence of Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults in Canada is a two-year initiative funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. This project is being led by a multidisciplinary team assembled under the auspices of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) . The team recently completed drafting definitions of elder abuse and neglect as part of the first phase of the research. These draft definitions generated considerable interest from a number of countries when they were presented at the International Federation of Aging (IFA) Conference (May 3-6, 2010) in Melbourne, Australia. On June 3-4, 2010, NICE organized a follow-up workshop to obtain additional input and to establish a preliminary consensus on the definitions among key researchers and stakeholders. As a next step, NICE will undertake the development of surveys and questions that will be tested by focus groups.

Articles of Interest

Click on a title of interest below to read an article:

Key Dates and Events

October 25 to 26 - Canadian Elder Abuse Training and Information Forum, Winnipeg , MB

This Forum will present participants with practical tools to increase their capacity to respond to situations of elder abuse. Speakers from across Canada will provide information on their research and training on elder abuse screening, assessment and prevention.

For more information, contact:

Age & Opportunity
Phone: (204) 956-6440


Researcher Profile

Dr. Lynn McDonald

Dr. Lynn McDonald co-authored the Canadian textbook, Aging in Contemporary Canada, 2nd edition (2008). She is also the author of a number of books and articles including one of the first Canadian texts on elder abuse, Elder Abuse and Neglect in Canada. In 2002 she was awarded the Governor General’s Golden Jubilee medal for her contributions to Canadian gerontology. In 2007, she received the Betty Havens Award in Longitudinal Research for her contributions to research in aging.

Currently, Dr. McDonald is a professor in the Faculty of Social Work and Director of the Institute for Human Development, Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto. She is also the Scientific Director of National Initiative of the Care of the Elderly, an International Centre of Excellence dedicated to the inter-professional care of older adults. Her research interests include work and retirement, violence against women and older adults, poverty and homelessness, and ethnicity and aging. She is currently a member of the Board of Accreditation of the Canadian Association of the Schools of Social Work, the Social Dimensions of Aging Committee for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the planning committee for the new Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.

Under the scientific direction of Dr. McDonald, NICE has recently acquired a two year grant from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. This grant will support NICE to define and measure the abuse and neglect of older adults, and will be used to inform thinking about how to measure its prevalence at a national level.

Organizational Profile

The BC Association of Community Response Networks

The BC Association of Community Response Networks (BCACRN) is a provincial non-profit registered charity committed to empowering communities and individuals through coordination and relationship building. Their vision is safe communities where all people are valued, respected and free from abuse and neglect.

The Community Response Networks (CRN), well-known throughout Canada, grew out of the implementation of Part 3 of the Adult Guardianship Act: Support and Assistance for Abused and Neglected Adults. The CRN movement is grounded in the community development principles of broad inclusion, meaningful participation, shared decision-making and assuming capability/building capacity.

Over the last couple of years, the BCACRN has undertaken a number of projects under the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative, including:

  • the production of Promising Approaches for Addressing/Preventing Abuse of Older Adults in First Nations Communities: A Critical Analysis and Environmental Scan of Tools and Approaches;
  • updating Outlook 2007: Promising Approaches in the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults in Community Settings in Canada (PDF Document - 490.62 KB - 65 pages); and
  • exploring the feasibility of various web-based technologies (blog, webinar and free TV broadcast) to support knowledge exchange.

At the local level, approximately 30 CRNs led by volunteers, undertake primary and secondary prevention activities. At the provincial level, the BCACRN provides supports to local CRNs, such as a coordinated approach to resource development, and the development of materials and resources.

BCACRN will be holding a series of regional conferences on promising approaches – locally, regionally, provincially and nationally – over the next 18 months. At least one of these events will held virtually so that anyone from across Canada will be able to participate. These conferences are supported by the New Horizons for Seniors Programs (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).

In the next edition…

The February 2011 edition of the Elder Abuse E-bulletin will focus on key highlights and accomplishments of the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative's public health component.

Content of the Elder Abuse E-Bulletin is provided as an information-sharing service; inclusion does not represent endorsement by the Public Health Agency of Canada or the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative member departments.

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