9 May 2019
Our consultant Wendy Hughes recently published an article about the abuse of older people and people with disability. Her article provided information about the recently established Royal Commission for Elderly Abuse and an overview of the different forms of abuse, including:
- Psychological or emotional abuse covering mental stress deriving from action and/or threats, such as: isolation, fear, deprivation, shame and powerlessness.
- Financial abuse encompassing the illegal or improper use of property or finances.
- Undue influence that occurs where the person feels vulnerable or dependent upon another person who threatens to withdraw essential support or harm them (or another person) if they do not comply.
- Neglect or acts of omission occurring when the carer or person responsible fails to provide (or allow another person to provide) the necessities of life such as adequate food, shelter, clothing or health needs.
- Physical abuse involving the infliction of physical pain or injury, or physical coercion.
- Restraints and restricted practices including restraining or isolating a person other than for medical necessity.
- Sexual abuse involving a range of sexual acts where the person’s consent has not been obtained or where their consent has been obtained through coercion.
Interchange Australia consultants attended a Seniors Exhibition in Goulburn on 2 May where Chief Inspector John Sheehan from the NSW Police provided an update on elder abuse in Australia.
Chief Inspector Sheehan stated that between 4% to 6% of older Australian’s experience some form of elder abuse and that there had been an increase in both social and chemical abuse. Some examples of social abuse include:
- Moving the person far away from friends and family members
- Preventing the person from using the phone or monitoring their calls
- Stopping the person from socialising with friends or neighbours
- Implying that friends and/or family are interfering
Some examples of chemical abuse include:
- Administering medication to the person that exceeds the recommended dosage
- Providing the person with alcohol, poison or other medications
- Witholding prescribed medications
Research shows that elder abuse is under-reported as it is often hidden or covered-up. Sons and daughters are the most likely abusers with sons responsible for 29% of reported abuse and daughters 24%.
In December last year, premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that an Ageing and Disability Commissioner will be appointed to investigate and stop abuse of older people and people with disability at home and in the community from 1 July 2019.
New Specialist Elder Abuse Officers will also be introduced in each NSW Police Command to undertake elder abuse investigations and to report these cases to the Commissioner.
If you are a victim of elder abuse or would like to report abuse, please contact the the Elder Abuse Hotline on 1800 628 221.