OPP is looking to raise awareness in Parry Sound-Muskoka about elder abuse.

Ahead of World Elder Abuse Day, the Ontario Provincial Police is sharing resources in order to ensure people can grow old feeling safe, valued and respected.

In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, Sergeant Jason Folz says the issue of elder abuse is a growing problem in the region and on a national scale.

“Six to ten percent of seniors aged 65 or older are living with some form of elder abuse, and that’s the violence, mistreatment and neglect of our older adults. It’s a big population and a big population in Muskoka and bringing the awareness that may save somebody from abuse.”

Elder abuse refers to the violence, mistreatment or neglect that older adults may experience at the hands of their spouses, children, other family members, caregivers, service providers or other individuals in positions of power or trust.

This year’s campaign encourages planting a tree or flower to honour those who are affected by elder abuse using the hashtags #UprootElderAbuse and #WEAAD2020.

Folz notes abuse can occur anywhere, including in your own home, home of the caregiver, long-term care homes, retirement homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals.

He adds that elders are our most vulnerable population, and they need to be supported.

“These are our most vulnerable citizens and for a lot of them – this is normal, putting up with abuse and dealing with the abuse is something that’s gone on for many years. So, bringing awareness might save people from a lot of heartache.”

Folz notes that there are a number of resources for ageing residents in need of assistance within our communities, including 211Ontario, Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario and the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

If you or someone you know has been abused or is experiencing abuse, you’re encouraged to contact the OPP non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on Monday.