Today, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The annual day highlights the rights of older people, whilst raising awareness to prevent their mistreatment and abuse.
The World Health Organisation defines elder abuse to include more than just physical harm or assault. It can include single or repeated acts, as well as a failure to take appropriate action. Categories of harm include physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or financial and encompass both intentional or unintentional harm/neglect.
According to a resource by the Department of Health, 600,000 or 14.8% of older Australians experience elder abuse per year.
Reporting of instances of elder abuse is also on the rise.
The NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald, told Australian Ageing Agenda there are number of reasons for the rise in the reporting of elder abuse.
“Firstly, it’s absolutely an increased awareness in the community that abuse can happen,” Mr Fitzgerald said and stressed there’s more awareness around financial abuse.
“Financial institutions, banks, superannuation funds and so on, are more aware of it and there’s a greater concern in the community about it.”
This increased knowledge in the rights of older people, coupled with more support, is one solution to tackling elder abuse, Mr Fitzgerald said.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got places to go where people who are concerned can raise those issues… support groups that deal with older people absolutely become familiar with the risk factors or signs that abuse is occurring,” he said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse call the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline – 1800 628 221 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm) – for information, support or to make a report.