How Emergency Protection Orders can improve the well-being of seniors in Alberta

Legal Aid Alberta has been able to support elderly clients escape unhealthy, and at times, dangerous situations.

Elder abuse is a serious social and public health issue that can destroy a person’s independence, dignity and sense of security. It can also damage lives and destroy relationships.

Whether it is emotional, financial, physical or sexual in nature, elder abuse takes on many forms, and preventing and addressing this type of abuse starts with empowerment. Knowing the signs and taking action to prevent impacts to their health and well-being, will help limit the impacts on our health, social services and justice systems.

The following stories are examples of situations where Legal Aid Alberta’s Emergency Protection Order Program can provide support to Albertans trying to escape abuse, often committed by someone close to the victim, like a family member, friend or caregiver. Legal Aid Alberta’s legal experts in Emergency Protection Orders have decades of experience and expertise to draw from, and work hard with and for clients to achieve the necessary outcome.

We all must do our part to learn the signs and break the cycle of elder abuse.

Under siege in her own home

A loving grandmother who worked hard her entire life, Mrs. Jones (name changed for privacy reasons) had been taking care of her grandson for years. She had hoped by showing support and encouragement to finish school and find a career that her grandson would find success.

That wasn’t the case. Despite her efforts, he began to use drugs as a teenager, and by the time he was a young adult, had a drug addiction that had become his sole focus.

It was at this time that she began to realize her life was in danger. He became very demanding and threatening towards his grandmother. Telling her lies to get money at first, he later became threatening and aggressive towards her if she didn’t stay silent or did not give him money.

He promised to get better, but he had become a different person. She became fearful when he began inviting his friends over for days on end. Under siege in her own home, she decided to call the police for help.

Even though she was being harassed and intimidated, emotionally and financially abused, at risk of losing all of her life savings and in fear for her life, Mrs. Jones didn’t want to press criminal charges against her grandson.

The police suggested she apply for an emergency protection order.

With the help of the police officer, Legal Aid Alberta’s Emergency Protection Order Program, and a duty counsel at no cost to her to represent her at court, a judge granted a one-year emergency protection order on the same day. Her grandson was duly served by the police, was able to get his personal belongings from the home and ordered to find a new place to live and to no longer contact her. This was a difficult decision because she cared a great deal about her grandson but she realized that he was putting her life in danger, and could no longer help him.

Today, Mrs. Jones calls the Emergency Protection Order Program on occasion to let them know how she is doing. She still hopes that one day her grandson will get the professional help he needs to live a better life, but is thankful for the support she got because she no longer fears for her life.

Families getting help with difficult situations

Mr. and Mrs. Baker’s (names changed for privacy reasons) daughter lived with them due to her struggles with serious mental health challenges. For the most part, they all managed to live together peacefully.

However, things changed. Their daughter became unstable after refusing to take her medications. She became violent, destroyed property and threatened to set fire to the home. She was admitted to the hospital for a 30-day assessment.

Mr. and Mrs. Baker were exhausted and could no longer cope with the stress. Legal Aid Alberta staff worked with them to help them apply for an emergency protection order for a period of six months to give them time to rest and reevaluate how they would support their daughter in the future without putting themselves further at risk.

Some special provisions were included in the order to allow them to speak with their daughter on the phone and attend medical and counselling meetings with their daughter if they wanted to do so.

Today, Mrs. and Mr. Baker are safe and have maintained contact with their daughter who now lives in a home where she has the supports she needs.

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