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Let's Stop Elder Abuse - A message from Right at Home Australia

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June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and we at Right at Home take this very seriously.

elder abuse blog

Elder abuse isn’t a topic anyone enjoys discussing, but it’s important to talk about it. Experts estimate that 10% of older adults are victims of elder abuse, yet only a small percentage of cases are ever reported. 

Elder Abuse may include:  

  • Physical abuse: Use of physical force that results in illness or injury; restraining an older adult against their will.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse: Insults, threats and other behaviour that causes mental pain; isolating the individual from other people.
  • Sexual abuse: Involving the person in forced or unwanted sexual contact.
  • Neglect and abandonment: Failure to provide food, shelter, hygiene, medical care and other basic necessities of life.
  • Financial exploitation: Theft, forgery, stealing from an older person’s bank account, pension or other retirement benefits; fraud; improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.

Elder abuse can be perpetrated by a stranger via a random robbery or scam telephone call, or it can be perpetrated by a “friendly stranger” who works their way into an older person’s life with malintent. But sadly, experts report that most elderly abuse is committed by a “trusted other” – someone who is considered a family member, friend, neighbour or financial advisor. 

Though the risk of elder abuse increases when an older adult is dependent on others due to mobility challenges, dementia or other disabilities, elder mistreatment happens to older persons of every socioeconomic and health status. It can happen in the person’s home, in a care home, or in the home of a family member.

Gerontologists also say that social isolation is a top risk factor for elder abuse, giving World Elder Abuse Awareness Month 2021 increased significance. Stay-at-home orders have curtailed many of the services that keep older adults connected to the world outside their homes. Economic insecurity has raised instances of financial abuse. And scammers have been out in full force, taking advantage of the fears of older adults to sell them useless treatments and cures, or to scare them into divulging personal information that allows the crooks to access the elders’ bank accounts.

Preventing elder abuse

Everyone has a role to play in protecting the elderly. Advocates seek to raise awareness of the problem among doctors, bank employees and law enforcement. The general public, too, are urged to know the warning signs:

  • Unexplained bruises, broken bones, burns, cuts or scars.
  • Poor hygiene, dirty clothes, unusual weight loss, bedsores.
  • Withdrawal from normal activities and relationships.
  • Sudden change in an elder’s financial situation.
  • Depression and signs of trauma.
  • Belittling, threats or other power abuse by carers.
  • Lack of appropriate medical care.

When it’s time to act

Older persons who are being mistreated may be too ashamed or afraid to talk about it. They may not want to get a relative in trouble. They may fear retribution from the abuser. And they may believe that the abuser is their only source of care.

If you suspect an elder has been victimised, reassure them that it is not their fault. Explain that you are concerned, and offer to assist them in getting help. Report your concerns to the local adult safeguarding authorities.

If you think the person is in immediate danger, call your local police to get help right away.

If someone neglects their own well-being, which might be due to dementia, ill health or substance abuse, this is considered self-neglect, and also should be reported so the person can be helped.

Keeping our loved ones safe

Especially since the advent of the pandemic, it’s important for family to stay in close touch with older family members. Visit as often as is safe and permissible. These days, that might mean video visits or phone calls. Make these contacts frequent. Know the red flags listed above, and encourage your loved one to be open about things that concern them.

Sadly, a family member is sometimes responsible for elder abuse. The more family members involved with a loved one’s care, the better. If a loved one is moving to a care home, check it out. And family should learn all they can about people with whom they entrust their loved one’s care. Sometimes a person with ill intentions can masquerade as a “loving friend” or “competent professional”.

Professional in-home care services like Right at Home can help. Professional caregivers assist clients with personal care, health care management, transportation and companionship. They provide watchful supervision for frail seniors and those with dementia. They lessen the workload for family carers, and liaison with family members who live further away. Be sure that your home care provider employs screened, highly trained and compassionate caregivers. 

Let’s put a stop to elder abuse in Australia.


Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links:

Australian Government Department of Health

Victorian Health and Human Services

NSW Health

Queensland Health

ACT Health

WA Department of Health

Tasmanian Department of Health

Northern Territory Department of Health

SA Health

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.

Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government-approved, home care provider for levels 1-4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite caredementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.

To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.

Right at Home Offices in Australia: Sydney Lower North Shore; Sydney Upper North Shore; Sydney Central and Eastern Suburbs; Sydney Northern Beaches; Sydney Norwest; Sydney The Hills; Padstow St George; Macarthur Penrith; Newcastle; Hunter & Port Stephens; Southern NSW; Toowoomba- Darling Downs; Sunshine Coast and Gympie; Mackay; Central Queensland; Townsville; Far North Queensland; Gold Coast South; Gold Coast North; Northern Rivers; Brisbane Bayside; Brisbane South; Brisbane North; Brisbane West; Perth Midland; Perth Northern Suburbs; Perth West Coast: Kalgoorlie Wheatbelt; Moreton Bay Region; Sydney Inner West; Sydney Ryde; Greater Logan

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