Monday, March 4, 2024

Elder Abuse is everyone’s business

We know Elder Abuse can happen anywhere – in residential aged care, home care and in
families. As with many forms of abuse, it can be hard to speak out. Sometimes it’s even
difficult to admit it to yourself.

We also know silence is its biggest ally. When Elder Abuse happens within families in particular, people can feel ashamed to seek help and be fearful of reprisal.

In 2022, to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June), Advocare encourages everyone in the community to make Elder Abuse their business – to recognise the signs and to know what to say and do if an older person has the courage to disclose it.

Elder Abuse can come in a number of subtypes, which often co-exist in combinations. The
most prevalent forms in 2020 reported were Psychological abuse (13%), Neglect (3%) and
Financial abuse (2%). Physical and Sexual abuse are the other two types of abuse, the latter not surprisingly, being the least reported of all. Findings show 84% of older people
experiencing sexual abuse did not seek help.

Quick facts about elder abuse:

• Nationally, 15% of people aged 65 years+ will have experienced Elder Abuse (or 1-in-6)
• Both older men and women experience similar rates of abuse
• Perpetrators of Elder Abuse are often family members, mostly adult children, but
can also be friends, neighbours and acquaintances
• Almost two-thirds of older people do not seek help when they are abused (61%)
• The group at greatest risk of abuse is 65 to 69 year-olds
(2021 National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study: Summary Report)

Every week, Advocare’s professional and approachable Advocates work with older people
experiencing Elder Abuse. We offer assistance, information, organise access to suitable
resources and support services, and work with them to try and resolve a situation in a way
that makes them feel most comfortable.

The WA Elder Abuse Helpline is a free phone call away on 1300 724 679.

Another way Elder Abuse is being uncovered in the community is by work carried out by the Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (APEA), a group that operates in most states,
including Western Australia.

Chaired by Advocare in WA, its purpose is to bring together community and government service providers to identify systemic failures in government policy-making in regards to older Australians.

If you are either a concerned individual, or work for a service provider dealing with older people and can see problems contributing to opportunities for Elder Abuse to occur, contact Advocare on 9479 7566.

It’s another way we can help make Elder Abuse prevention everyone’s business.

Find out more about where to start in recognising Elder Abuse. Try the first step with our free Ready to Listen webinar series in June.

Advocare is a not-for-profit organisation independent of service providers that has supported the rights of older Western Australians for over 25 years.


(Research reference: 2021 National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study: Summary Report, December 2021. Australian Institute of Family Studies. aifs.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/

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