All Australians have the right to live safely and with dignity, free from any form of abuse, especially at the hands of someone they know and trust.
Unfortunately, for some older people, particularly those who have mental or physical ailments, they are less likely to be able to stand up to bullying, defend themselves if attacked or realise they’re being preyed upon financially.
This is known as elder abuse and sadly, is an emerging as a rising problem in today’s society. It’s defined as the mistreatment of an older person by someone who they know and trust. This abuse can be social, physical, the result of neglect or financial.
How to identify elder abuse
Warning signs of elder abuse may include a person seeming fearful, anxious, depressed or isolated. Hesitation to talk openly, non-responsiveness, implausible stories and inconsistency are all red flags. Physically, there may be injuries, weight loss, signs of dehydration, or an absence of personal care or hygiene. Deteriorating health should never be ignored. Disappearance of cash or possessions, unexplained financial transactions, and changes to a Will, title or other documents can be signs that a person is being financially exploited.
What you can do if you suspect abuse is occurring
Speak up. That is the best thing to do.
If you are experiencing abuse, tell a family member, your doctor or someone you trust. If you think someone you know is showing signs of elder abuse, or you want to talk to someone about your own experiences, there is help available.
In Western Australia, Advocare is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit organisation that supports and protects the rights of older people through advocacy, information and education. All calls are confidential and all their services are free. You can contact Advocare by calling 1300 724 679 or visiting the Advocare website.