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Tell us about the AEAAN

Pat Power: The Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Network has been around since about 2003. It has two main objectives:
-to create awareness of elder abuse amongst seniors and others in the community.
-to support service providers and other professionals who are trying to deal with the issue of elder abuse.

The network gathers monthly, connecting different areas and regions of the province, both municipal and rural. We try to support each other, to generate ideas and to implement as many projects, training programmes and presentations as possible, in order to encourage community involvement in our respective areas. A recent example of project implementation is  the Neighbours Friends and Families for Older Adults programme. We did some training for Network members and other service providers in September, with Margaret McPherson, the project coordinator for this pan-Canadian project.  

The network also benefits from a sound connection with the provincial government. The Alberta government is represented  within the network by Ms. Lori Therrien, who is the Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator. The provincial government is a strong supporter and co-sponsor of the Face It: Elder Abuse Happens conference.

What led AEAAN to organize this conference?
Pat Power: We are trying to meet our second objective of supporting service providers and professionals around the issue of Elder Abuse. We wanted to bring in various perspectives and a diverse group of professionals. The goal is to try -as much as possible in a 2 day conference - to cover the multiple aspects of this issue and to support the work that our attendees are doing.

The network developed its first conference in 2011, we were quite pleased with our first attempt  and received many good and encouraging responses. It took a little while to organize another one, but here we are, with our second one on May 21 and 22, 2015.

What would you say are the biggest needs and issues that service providers encounter in Alberta?
Pat Power: The main issues in Alberta are fairly consistent with the rest of the country. We are trying, through the NNF programmes and others, to break down the notion that the issue lies with the person experiencing abuse. We are trying to convey that getting help is a good thing, and to create a supportive and comfortable atmosphere for seniors and family members to come forward.

For instance, new immigrant seniors find it difficult to come forward and therefore, it is challenging for us, as service providers, to connect with some of these cultural communities. We are looking for ways to do so by having participants address this topic at the conference. One speaker is coming from Alberta, the other from Toronto, and both have done some great things with the Chinese and South Asian communities in their areas.

Marilyn Lizee will be at the conference as well to talk about her project in Grande Prairie, dealing with the same issue, with respect to connecting with Metis and Aboriginal communities around the elder abuse issue.

We also have a need in the area of collaboration with financial institutions, and with others like Police, Government Trustee and legal professions, so as to be more responsive to financial elder abuse. We are hoping to get more insight into this question with the Panel presentation Financial Elder Abuse- Building a Partnership Model , which will take place on the first day of the conference.

Finally, another ongoing issue is how to approach elder abuse from a family perspective and  how to deal with those inflicting the abuse. It is one topic for which we need better strategies and which we hope to address in a future conference.

Tell us more about the conference’s guest speakers:
Pat Power: As service providers, we are always trying to figure out remedies around the legal side of the Elder Abuse issue. Paul Greenwood is very familiar with our legal system, as well as the American and the English systems. He is very knowledgeable and will help us figure out better strategies. He actually took part in our first International Elder Abuse Conference in 1998.

Laura Mosqueda has an impressive breadth of knowledge, she is a medical doctor, a researcher and specializes in elder abuse. She is the Co-director of the National Centre on Elder Abuse in the US, we know that she will bring a dynamic presentation and share her experience from a research perspective. Laura has also worked in a very collaborative model over the years, which is part of this conference’s tagline: “building connections” with each other. She has a wealth of information and experience and will be very helpful for all of us.

What else will attendees get to take part in?
Pat Power: We will be presenting three Great Canadian Projects, including the CNPEA Knowledge Sharing Project. The overview, introduced by 3 key people associated with these projects, will be followed by a Q&A. There will also be a poster session. This will not be a static poster presentation, rather an interactive one. People from the community response networks will open an information-sharing session around the poster.

The team is growing excited after such a long preparation. We are looking forward to hear the information that will be shared, brought back into communities and implemented. We hope to see new connections and networks being built to lead to a more supportive environment to deal with Elder Abuse.


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