Viewpoint—Elder abuse in Canada

The beginning—a recap

The CGRA, established in 1986, helped families in distress following a separation or divorce, its purpose being to promote, support, and assist grandparents and their families in maintaining or re-establishing family ties and family stability. The CGRA was especially concerned with those ties between grandchildren and grandparents.

The family court system seemed to forget about the word family in its court decisions—despite its own functionality and name(!)— and frequently decided the children only needed one caregiving parent, although former Minister of Justice Mark MacGuigan coined the phrase “best interests of the child” in 1984 and stated: “A child must have maximum access to both parents.” Despite this, they made most of their decisions for sole custody, with the custodial parent most likely to be the mother. The non-custodial parent was usually the father, and this meant that the paternal grandparents often lost touch with their grandchildren.

Grandparent’s groups formed across Canada, the grandparent’s quilt was started by an Ontario grandmother with grandparents expressing their grief on the quilt squares. The grandparent’s quilt came to represent that very dark period in Canadian history of divorce and custody of children of divorce when children often lost access to one side of their parental lineage. Not only were grandparents and fathers the major losers in these decisions, so were the children.

When grandparents struggle to see their grandchildren without success, life becomes stressful and existing illnesses often hasten death. This has come to be seen as a form of elder abuse—we expect grandparents to be treated as fully participating family members and when this doesn’t occur—because of separation/divorce and less than civil resulting relations between the couple—grandparents and the children in question suffer, as well as the dad, who was usually the one left out. It has long been the CGRA’s purpose to battle this form of abuse and to effect change.


BC’s Council to Reduce Elder Abuse notes that today’s older citizen’s experience serious abuse in many areas: emotionally, physically, and financially – at the hands of strangers, friends, acquaintances,  caregivers, and family members.

For this reason, I’m including information in Viewpoint on elder abuse of various kinds—as this affects many grandparents and their rights. Daphne


There are three separate categories of elder abuse:

Domestic elder abuse: usually takes place in the older adult’s home, or in the home of the caregiver. The abuser is often a relative, close friend, or paid companion.

Institutional abuse: refers to abuse that takes place in a residential home (nursing home), foster home, or assisted-living facility. The abuser has a financial or contractual obligation to care for the older adult.

Self-neglect is the behavior of an older adult that threatens his or her health or safety. Self-neglect Is present when an older adult refuses or fails to provide himself or herself with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, and safety precautions.

To be continued—

Note—if you experience (or know of anyone who may be) any form of elder abuse, Health Link BC is as close as your phone or web, day or night, every day of the year)