Elder Abuse – we all need to be aware!

‘Elder abuse is 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.’

The National Conference on Elder Abuse held in Melbourne in February reported that 10% of society is affected and that is expected to increase with as our population ages. Abusers comprise:  carers, relatives, service providers, neighbours and friends. Abuse is an invisible and most offer an unreported issue especially due to family reluctance/shame, isolation, disability and previous abuse mostly perpetrated by an adult male family member, mainly against women, as in family violence. But men are reporting abuse also (see Life News Autumn Issue). Elder Abuse is a Human Rights issue and an under-appreciated matter needing urgent attention – it is hard to measure and unambiguous legal definitions are essential, intergenerational understanding and respect is critical and the stereotype of ageing as a problem/negative challenged.  The consensus of the meeting was that Australia needs a National Strategy to coordinate and streamline (identify gaps) National data, a well targeted communication campaign mounted to raise awareness, and a hot line (one stop shop referral) established. For information please contact the Seniors Rights Victoria Helpline on 1300 368 821 or visit their website http://seniorsrights.org.au/