Elder Abuse and Compulsive Hoarding Support Groups for Seniors

The Cause

Sage (Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton) provides a number of social service programs for the most vulnerable and at-risk seniors in Edmonton. This Full House is a program that supports seniors with severe hoarding behaviour. The Sage Safe House provides shelter for seniors in need of safety due to abuse. As components of both of these programs, Sage runs regular support groups that are attended by present and past program participants.

SOAR (Seniors Overcoming Abusive Relationships) and This Full House support group provide peer support, education and information related to the struggles and challenges of the participating seniors. Through running these groups, we have also found that this is a way for past clients of these programs to remain involved and give back to the programs by supporting and mentoring present clients. By helping vulnerable and at-risk seniors to make significant changes in their lives, they become able to participate in their community and help others, and are inspired to do so.

Sage’s support groups help seniors to make these changes, and provide a venue for future participation and engagement. The impact, however, is not limited to these groups. A woman experiencing elder abuse appealed to Sage for help and entered into the Safe House. The program helped her overcome the abuse she experienced, and she moved on to a safer, healthier environment. Now, she volunteers regularly with Sage, orchestrating and running a life enrichment program. Her story is evidence that supporting vulnerable and at-risk seniors can positively impact not only the life of the senior, but our whole community.

Funding for the support groups is provided on a temporary basis through one-time grants. Currently there is no funding for these groups. A donation from the Field Law Community Fund could ensure that these groups continue to be offered.

Who Will it Benefit?

Sage’s Safe House and This Full House programs serve older adults in the Greater Edmonton area who are experiencing abuse or who struggle with severe hoarding. In 2012, the Safe House sheltered 37 abused seniors, and This Full House operated with an average case load of 35 clients per month.

Severe hoarding can also have a substantial community impact, such as decreasing property values in whole neighborhoods, so the scope of beneficiaries may be significantly broader. Every month, between 10 and 15 seniors attend each support group. However, the story above shows that the benefits are not limited to program and support group participants. The seniors supported by This Full House and the Safe House are able to make their own contributions, support other seniors, and become more engaged in the community. They demonstrate the ripple effect these programs can have.