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  • Michael McCulloch

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEADD), a day officially recognised by the United Nations as a day for the world to voice its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on our older citizens in our global community.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022
Two-thirds of older people don't seek help when they are abused

Elder abuse is a serious problem in Australia with an ageing population being subjected to abuse by trusted family members, friends, neighbours and acquaintances with a significant part of the problem being hidden as two-thirds of abused older people are not coming forward and seeking help. Elder abuse can come in many forms including financial, physical, psychological, neglect and sexual abuse. Megan Osborne, Acting CEO of the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian says the purpose of WEADD is to help educate people about the signs of elder abuse.

"Research tells us that sadly perpetrators are often adult children, close friends and acquaintances to the person who suffers the abuse. It’s important to know what the warning signs are. Take notice if an older person doesn’t have money for essentials like food or clothing, or is unable to pay bills."

Agencies such as State and Territory public trustees and guardians and the Office of the Public Advocate aim to protect older people and recommend that they take steps to protect themselves before it is too late.

“One important safeguard is to put in place important documents that assist in future decision-making, should you need them. This includes a Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship appointment that lets you to choose someone you trust to manage your financial, legal and health decisions if you no longer can,” said Ms Osborne.

Key Messages -

  • One in six older Australians (15%) reported experiencing abuse in the 12 months prior to being surveyed between February and May 2020.

  • Elder abuse can take the form of psychological abuse (12%), neglect (3%), financial abuse (2%), physical abuse (2%) and sexual abuse (1%).

  • Perpetrators of elder abuse are often family members, mostly adult children, but they can also be friends, neighbours and acquaintances.

  • People with poor physical or psychological health and higher levels of social isolation are more likely to experience elder abuse.

  • Two-thirds of older people don't seek help when they are abused (61%).

  • Elder abuse often remains hidden, with the most frequent action taken to stop the abuse involving the victim speaking directly to the perpetrator.

  • Family and friends are the most common source of support for older people who experience abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, you should contact the national Elder Abuse Phone Line on 1800 353 374 or an in an emergency call 000.

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