Hairdressers to Help Spot Signs of Elder Abuse

South Australian hairdressers and beauticians are being called on to help spot the signs of elder abuse in the community.

Jeanette Walters, Director of the Office for Ageing Well, said hair and beauty professionals often develop close bonds with their clients, making them perfectly placed to spot the signs of elder abuse.

“Hairdressers and beauticians build trusting relationships with their clients, often over a number of years,” Ms Walters said.

“This puts them in prime position to notice what may be signs of abuse.

“Our aim is to make sure that if anyone does notice anything concerning, they are aware there’s someone they can call.

“The SA Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line has staff that can provide free, confidential and culturally sensitive advice and provide a gateway to important information and services that can help.”

The Office for Ageing Well’s annual StopElder Abuse campaign, runs from Monday 20 May to Saturday 22 June 2019.

“Around one in 20 older Australians are experiencing some form of abuse from someone they know and trust,” Ms Walters said.

“We know from our own data that older women are more likely to be experiencing abuse and that it’s most likely at the hands of their adult children.

“The abuse can be physical, financial, sexual, chemical or emotional, and we know older people can be more vulnerable, especially where there is increasing frailty and physical or mental decline.

“While this year we are targeting hair and beauty professionals, we want to remind anyone that provides services to older people, whether that’s in banking and finance, real estate or aged care, to reach out to the phone line service if they are concerned about someone they know.”

In South Australia, half of all cases of elder abuse are financial, which often occurs simultaneously with emotional abuse.

The South Australian Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line Support and Referral Service, funded by the South Australian Government, provides callers with information, advice and referral to appropriate services, including advocacy, mediation and legal support.

The number of calls to the Elder Abuse Prevention phone line has continued to grow since its commencement in October 2015.

There were 417 calls received between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018, compared with 241 during the same period in 2016-17, and 213 between October 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Data indicates that the most frequent callers in 2017-18 were members of an older person’s family (39 per cent), with the next most frequent being from the older person themselves (24 per cent).

Following this, 18 percent of calls were from service providers, nine percent from friends and seven percent from neighbours or acquaintances.

During 2017-18, calls to the phone line indicated the majority of older people experiencing abuse were female (60 percent), while 31 percent were male.

Financial abuse (45 percent) and psychological or emotional abuse (26 percent) were the most common types of elder abuse in 2017-18, with sons (26 percent) and daughters (21 percent) the most common alleged abusers.

Information collected by the phone line has contributed to knowledge about the prevalence, complexity of elder abuse situations, lived experiences and associated risk factors.

If you have concerns about your own situation or someone you know, call the SA Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line on 1800 372 310.

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