There is nothing more special to us at Ozcare than our residents and clients, which is why we support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15.
Whether you are a senior, carer, aged care worker, friend, or relative, it’s important to know the warning signs of elder abuse and how to get help.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse is any act which harms an older person and is carried out by someone they trust such as a family member, partner, or friend.
When most people think of elder abuse, they think of pension skimming, taking money, or selling possessions. But there are many actions that are abusive if they are done against a senior’s will, including:
- Not allowing them to make their own decisions
- Forcing them to change their will
- Intimidating, humiliating, or harassing them
- Preventing them from seeing their friends or family
- Threatening to put them in an aged care home against their will
- Neglecting their medical, physical, or emotional needs
- Misusing an enduring power of attorney by taking money or property
- Any form of violence, including pushing or slapping
What ISN’T elder abuse
If a senior is unable to make decisions about their personal or financial affairs, it’s in the best interests of the senior to give an enduring power of attorney to a relative. It is granted if a senior can no longer:
- Understand the nature and effect of the decision
- Freely and voluntarily make a decision
- Communicate the decision in some way
An enduring power of attorney can be signed at any time, but only comes into effect when the senior is no longer capable of making decisions.
Read more about power of attorney on the Queensland Government website
How to spot the signs
It’s not uncommon for a senior to brush-off elder abuse as something they have to put up with, and it’s very common for those committing the abuse to justify their actions. If you are concerned that someone you know is suffering, here are some warning signs that could signify there is a problem:
- Sudden changes in personality or mood
- Loss of interest in their hobbies or favourite activities
- Quiet and reluctant to talk
- Change to sleep patterns and eating
- Increased irritability, anxiousness, and crying
- Large changes in behaviour, such as waiting for another person to answer questions for them
- Lack of money for essential items and services
- Unexplained accidents or injuries
- Disappearance of possessions
Where to get help
If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, it is important to know that help is available.
Elder Abuse Hotline
In Queensland, call the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday for free and confidential advice from the Queensland Government.
Seniors’ Legal and Support Service (SLASS)
Free legal advice, information, and social work service for people over 60 years of age. Find your nearest centre via the SLASS website.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Contact the public trustee on 1300 360 044 or visit the Public Trustee website to read information about enduring powers of attorney.