Today, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the rights of our community’s older citizens are in the spotlight amidst a growing problem of elder abuse.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an international event created by the United Nations in 2012,which attempts to shine a light on the problem of physical, emotional and financial abuse of elders.
In recognition of the day, Community Law Australia is calling on governments to increase funding to community legal centres, which provide vital support and assistance to this highly vulnerable group.
CLA is seeing a growing need to help tackle elder abuse, which can include cases of physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, with financial abuse the most common.
Any act, which causes harm to an older person, is considered elder abuse when someone they know and trust such as family or friends carries it out.
Elder abuse can take the form of taking someone’s money, neglect or failure of a carer to provide adequate food, shelter or health care, or forced isolation.
And because it is most often family members involved, supporting older people to take action is very difficult.
There are many cases of elder abuse that would not be dealt with properly if it weren’t for a local CLC.
An example of this was where an elderly woman was suffering from memory loss and complex health issues. Her daughter moved in as her carer and managed her finances. The daughter moved herself into the house, and re-located her elderly mother to the back bungalow. Despite receiving a carer’s payment, she was not providing care and support to her mother.
The CLC worked with a local health service and the elderly client to address the issues, empowering the client to decide what action she wanted taken.
But how many other older people in our communities are taken advantage of in this way?
There are a handful of CLCs across Australia with dedicated funding to providing assistance to older clients. Many other CLCs also assist, but are stretched by a lack of resources.
But within 25 years it is estimated that nearly a quarter of Australians will be over 65 years old.
That’s why it’s critical that we look after our ageing population by providing the necessary services to stop these types of abuses happening.
By Carolyn Bond
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