Elder abuse is defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person” (World Health Organization). Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual or financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.
Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual or financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.
Anecdotally, data collected by the UnitingCare Community Elder Abuse Prevention Unit in 2013 – 2014 shows that financial abuse is the equal most prevalent form of abuse of elderly people. The other most prevalent is psychological abuse. The two are interrelated – one is the means to achieve the other.
Living arrangements play a big role in regard to maltreatment of elderly people. About 95 per cent of older Australians live in private homes, either alone or with a spouse, sharing with siblings or other relatives, sharing with friends of their own generation or living with single or married offspring who themselves may have children or grandchildren (McCallum, Matiasz and Graycar 1990). The remaining 5 per cent live in specialised aged-care accommodation. This is contrary to the widespread belief that a high proportion of older people live in ‘homes’.
The people impacted by elder abuse are real people with real lives. They are our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles, our colleagues and neighbours. If you suspect someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, you have a responsibility to help.
If you are concerned about an elder’s welfare for any reason, or know people who are, please contact the Elder Abuse helpline (ph: 1300 651 192), which provides free assistance to anyone experiencing elder abuse, or who is concerned about someone they know. The helpline is operated by UnitingCare Community and funded by the Queensland Government.
To discuss a potential Elder Law matter, contact Catherine Cheek, who is experienced in Elder Law, for a free initial consultation.