Calls to elder abuse helpline double
A NEW report on elder abuse brings to light a concerning trend regarding mistreatment of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Phone calls to elder abuse helplines almost doubled in the 2014-15 financial year compared to the year before; they jumped from 3159 to 6515.
And, according to a report on the subject released on June 15, World Elder Abuse Day, much of the abuse was psychological and financial.
The report was prepared by Advocare, Western Australia’s peak elder abuse support agency.
Psychological abuse of elders – defined as those over the age of 60, or 50 in the case of indigenous Australians – was the reason for 39 per cent of complaints.
These can include mistreatment involving verbal intimidation, humiliation, harassment, threats of various forms, removing decision-making power or an enduring guardian acting inappropriately.
Financial abuse made up 37 per cent of complaints, and can include non-repayment of home loans, denying access to personal funds or misuse of a bank card.
The chief executive of Advocare, Greg Mahney, said raising awareness of the issue was crucial.
“The significant increase in calls to helplines across Australia in the last 12 months shows that elder abuse is being recognised in the community, but there is still much work to be done to identify people who are suffering so they can be assisted by agencies like ours.”
Mr Mahney said that although research showed that 4.6 per cent of people may experience elder abuse, the real figure was likely to be much higher.
“Many cases go unreported for reasons of self-blame, shame and fear, and many older people suffer in silence. Nearly 90 per cent of perpetrators of elder abuse are family members,” he said.
The Elder Abuse Helpline has received a boost of $135,000 from the State Government, announced on Wednesday.
Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson said the service was a key defence.
Call the helpline on 1300 724 679 if you are being abused or suspect someone is being abused.