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Help to end elder abuse

Older lady smiling at home.

Monday 15 June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - find out what you can do to protect elderly people in our community.

Monday 15 June 2020

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Monday 15 June and Mount Alexander Shire Council is calling on the community to do what they can to put an end to elder abuse.

Up to 14 per cent of older people may experience abuse. The abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional, financial, social or sexual.

Elder abuse can cause stress, anxiety and depression and lead to increased risk of ill health, hospitalisation and early death. The restrictions of being at home during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may exacerbate the abuse.

Council’s Director of Corporate and Community Services, Lisa Knight said it is important to be aware of the signs amongst our at-risk vulnerable people.

“Elder abuse is any mistreatment of an older person by another person with whom they have a relationship of trust. Often that person is a family member or carer, but it could be a friend or neighbour on whom they depend,” said Ms Knight.

“Warning signs may be that the older person seems fearful, worried or withdrawn and they seem nervous or anxious with certain people,” she said.

Elder abuse can happen to anyone. Like other forms of family violence, it mostly occurs behind closed doors and many people who have been abused are reluctant to report the abuse because of the relationship they have with the abuser.

Signs that may indicate abuse include:
- Family and or friends are denied access to the person.
- The older person no longer goes out socially or gets involved in activities.
- They have unexplained injuries such as bruises, broken bones, sprains or cuts.
- Unpaid bills or unusual activity in bank accounts or credit cards.
- Unexplained changes to a will, title or other documents.
- Disappearance of possessions.
- Poor hygiene or personal care with an absence of needed health items such as hearing aids.

Loved ones and friends can play an important role in watching out for signs, listening and offering help. If you are concerned about elder abuse, please talk to the person you are concerned about. The importance of a person’s dignity, self-determination and human rights must always be considered, Invite them to talk in a place where they are alone and safe.

“Listen to the person. Offer them your time and respect, and understand that it is their right to make their own decisions. It’s important to believe what they are telling you and remind them they are not to blame,” said Ms Knight.

“Let them know that help is available and offer to assist them to get support,” she said.

For information and advice call Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821. This is a Victorian Government funded free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service. In an emergency call 000.

The aims of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day are to inform the community about elder abuse and what people can do to help. It is held on 15 June each year.

Image: Help to protect the elderly against abuse.

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