Help us address the crisis of elder abuse

 on October 1, 2021

Laura Walton, ODT, is chair of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario’s Elder Care Working Group. This letter was sent to the province’s seven dioceses. 

As we make our way into the second year of the pandemic, we as a Church have become keenly aware of the struggles many of our vulnerable elders are experiencing. While we as Christians should always advocate and protect any who are at-risk, we are now confronted with abuse of those in our older demographic. We are seeing countless issues in Ontario’s long-term care facilities and the personal homes of the elderly. We are keenly aware of physical and mental abuse, lack of care, abandonment and isolation that many seniors are experiencing. 

Our Elder Care Working Group has come together at the request of Archbishop Anne Germond and is drawn from the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. We have been asked by the archbishop to address the crisis of elder abuse and formulate a plan that not only advocates for our elders but offers seniors, their families and our parishes tools of support. 

We are not trained specifically in this area; however, we bring a variety of gifts and a broad range of knowledge to the table. We are seniors, children of seniors, and those who work with our elders with a burning desire to affect change. We have a vision, but we are also aware that it will take many voices to be heard, so we are asking that you lend your voice to ours, in the hope of meeting not just the perceived needs of seniors but real needs. We know there are some resources already available, but we feel we can do more – much more!

We are reaching out through various channels to find out what is needed at all levels of senior care. We want to hear what we can offer as a team that will aid in the care and advocacy for seniors. We need to understand how we can use our group’s advocacy skills and support to work with seniors and parishes who require our help. We want input from as many as possible.

This is a crisis of neglect and abuse brought to light by COVID-19, but it will not end with this pandemic. So please don’t add this to your “I’ll get to it later pile.” We are respectfully asking for your collective support as we gather feedback from bishops, clergy, lay people and seniors to discern what is needed. How do you think we can best support vulnerable seniors in this time of pandemic and beyond? We are asking that you would provide us with your feedback so we can deal with this important matter in a timely fashion. 

Please contact us and let us hear your voice. Raise your concerns and share your ideas. We are open to listening and learning so we can best serve and support our seniors who are at risk, but we can’t do that without your help. We want and need to hear your voice to help us care for the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent. Psalm 71:9

Send your thoughts to [email protected] or by regular mail to: Eldercare Working Group, c/o The Diocese of Algoma, 619 Wellington St. E., Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2M6. Laura Walton, ODT, is a member of the Diocese of Toronto. 


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