Elder abuse is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Abuse of an older person can range from psychological, financial, physical, social and sexual abuse and neglect.
Of the people that sought advice from Senior Rights Victoria (SRV) it is staggering but not surprising that 72% of those were women.
In 91% of cases, the abuse was perpetrated by a family member – a form of family violence.
The effects of abuse of an older person are profound and can impact a person’s physical and psychological well-being, their financial security and can lead to long term medical and psychological complications and death.
Older people have the right to live a life free from violence, coercive control and harm and as our population ages we need to work together as a community to ensure this form of violence does not increase as it is predicted to.
We must take a stand to safeguard our elders. We must change the negative stereotypes and attitudes we have toward ageing and call out violence and abuse.
Older people are our mothers and fathers – they are our history, our teachers and our heritage.
We have a responsibility to protect all older people and to learn from their wisdom and experience.
As Nelson Mandela said:
“A society that does not value its older people denies its roots and endangers its future. Let us strive to enhance their capacity to support themselves for as long as possible and, when they cannot do so anymore, to care for them.”
– Written by Kate Graham | 15 June 2023