Ahead of the United Nations’ World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, East Gippsland Shire Council is urging the community to recognise elder abuse and take steps to prevent it.
As part of the awareness Council will hold a range of activities over the month of June including the Older Driver Road Safety Information Sessions in Paynesville at the Men’s Shed (June 11, 10.30am) and Orbost Club (June 12, 10.30am) and a Legal Matters Seminar at Bairnsdale Library (June 18, 1pm). Bookings are required for these sessions by calling 5153 9500.
Mayor Cr Natalie O’Connell said Elder Abuse Awareness Day reminds everyone in the community that human rights do not diminish as people get older, and that everyone has the right to live with dignity and respect.
“We can help by seeing warning signs of elder abuse which may include a person seeming fearful, anxious or isolated. To guard against elder abuse, older people should make sure their financial, medical, legal and other affairs are in order and speak out if they have concerns,” Cr O’Connell said.
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.
Elder abuse is vastly under-reported, but the World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide are affected. It is a symptom of both the ageism and sexism in society.
The latest figures compiled by the National Ageing Research Institute of Seniors Rights Victoria data show that financial abuse and psychological/emotional abuse together are the most common forms of abuse reported by older Victorians (81.82%). Victims are most likely to be female (72.5%), and the perpetrators are 60% male and 40% female. Also 92.3% of abuse is perpetrated by persons related to the older person or in a de facto relationship and 66.8% of abuse is perpetrated by a child of the older person.
Elder abuse warning signs may include injuries, or an absence of personal care. Disappearance of possessions, unexplained financial transactions, and changes to a will, title or other documents are also of concern, as are arguments with a caregiver.
“Given that most elder abuse occurs behind closed doors, it is important for loved ones to watch out for signs, listen and offer help,” Cr O’Connell said.
Anyone experiencing elder abuse can get help by calling Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821 or visiting seniorsrights.org.au