Valley First

Colour purple the order of the day

Valley First helps drive awareness for World Elder Abuse Awareness day

June 10, 2016

Penticton, B.C.—On June 15, purple garb will be the attire of choice at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, as employees mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Employees of the credit union will be encouraged to join the global effort to help raise awareness of the growing problem of elder abuse by wearing purple. According to the World Health Organization, taking advantage of seniors financially is one of the more prevalent forms of elder abuse occurring in the world today. Financial abuse of elders is estimated to affect as much as 9.2 per cent of the senior population.

“It’s important that we help drive awareness of this issue and do what we can in the area of financial abuse of the elderly,” says Kevin Haarhoff, an investigator in the corporate security department at Valley First. “Being an advocate for seniors is just one of the many ways we can make a difference in the financial lives of our members.”

Haarhoff says the credit union equips its employees on the issue of elder financial abuse.

“Employees across the credit union receive information on how to recognize signs that might suggest an elder is being abused financially,” he says. “Often, signs of abuse are only revealed through conversation, so our financial experts are well-equipped because they take the time to build relationships with members.”

Haarhoff says there are warning signs to look for if you suspect a senior you know is being taken advantage of financially.

“Unusual bank account activity that does not line up with your friend or love one’s lifestyle—especially if they can’t explain it—might be a sign of abuse” he says. “Look for patterns of withdrawals, transfers between accounts, or excessive ATM usage.”

Victims may also recount stories of feeling intimidated.

“Seniors may be pressured into making financial transactions for another person or be pressured into adding a person to the account as a joint signer or power of attorney,” says Haarhoff. “Recognizing this warning sign requires you to pay close attention to what your friend or loved one is saying. It may be difficult for them to share this, because the abuser might be a relative or close friend.”

To learn more about elder abuse and how to prevent or report it, Haarhoff recommends starting with the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse at

About Valley First

Valley First is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit

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