The first emergency shelter for Central Alberta seniors has opened in Red Deer.
The two-bedroom suite, in an undisclosed location, will act as a safe house for seniors in the region who may be living with elder abuse.
Such safe houses exist in other centres such as Edmonton and Calgary.
Monica Morrison, executive director of Golden Circle Resource Centre, said since the safe house opened on Sept. 5, she has received four calls but no one has moved in yet.
Now that the safe house project is completed, the Red Deer Co-ordinated Community Response team, that comprises of regional organizations with a similar goal — to help and support seniors in the community — will focus on elder abuse education in the community and schools.
“It’s a social issue and we need to look at changing attitudes,” said Morrison.
Red Deer and surrounding communities need to work together to curb the issue, she said. In order to do that, the response team hosted a second annual Community Conversation on Abuse of Older Adults in Central Alberta on Tuesday.
Organizations from approximately 25 communities joined in the conversation including Olds, Rocky Mountain House, Innisfail, Tofield and Hanna.
She said the one-day event provided an opportunity for organizations to connect with each other to address the issue of elder abuse.
In order for service providers to work seamlessly between communities, organizations in Central Alberta need to know what everybody is doing when it comes to elder abuse, just in case one community calls the other during an emergency, Morrison said.
Elder abuse comes in various forms. One common motivator is money — when adult children try to go after their parents’ money.
“They would have mom and dad sign over their property saying you can live with us, but once the deed has been changed, they kick mom or dad out and the senior has nothing to stand on,” said Morrison.
These are some of the cases of elder abuse and the numbers are rising in cases of financial abuse in the province due to the economic downturn, said Morrison, who also sits on Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council.