When it comes to the safety of seniors in Manitoba, the Manitoba RCMP and the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres (MASC) are putting the focus on prevention. And they're doing this through a fun, innovative program they designed called the Police Academy: Older Adult Division.
It deals with topics including elder abuse, planning for the future, frauds and scams, personal safety and medication safety.
"One of the most important topics is elder abuse," says Connie Newman, the executive director of MASC. "We all think we know everything, but life is changing fast as we get older, we don't know everything. And when you look at elder abuse, especially financial abuse, many don't realize it's often family doing the abusing."
Newman says the police academy is a place to start having those conversations around what elder abuse and other safety issues really look like so that people have the knowledge to watch for it and possibly prevent it.
She's spoken with seniors who've been victims of a crime and have lost money and felt humiliated as a result. And she's spoken with police academy graduates who said when they were in similar situations, they knew what to do because of what they learned.
Graduates from the academy are encouraged to become mentors and share the information.
"Now all of sudden we have that many more messengers going out and sharing that message with friends, families and neighbours," says Sgt. Rob Lockhart with the RCMP's Winnipeg Crime Prevention Services. "It starts a great conversation."
The six-week program has been educating older adults on safety and security issues at least five times a year since it was created in 2009. Many sessions are led and facilitated by the RCMP, local police and experts in the community.