Elder abuse generally occurs within a relationship of trust, with the highest proportion caused by sons and daughters.
Financial abuse most common
Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) manager Jenny Blakey said that financial abuse was the most common form of abuse reported through the SRV helpline. In acknowledgement of that fact, this year’s annual SRV WEEAD forum, Human Rights are Ageless, will focus on how assets and funds are transferred through generations.
Men and women can be affected
Another free forum, Legal Matters for Older Fellas, will provide an opportunity for older men to discuss issues of concern with lawyers and other professionals.
“Only one third of our callers are men,” Ms Blakey said. “There is a strong stereotype about men being in control, so it can be harder for them to talk about being abused within the family.”
It helps to build confidence
Ms Blakey said a lot of victims of elder abuse, regardless of gender, are initially reluctant to make changes that could benefit them.
“Some people have been so abused within their situation that they lack a lot of confidence to make those changes,” she said. “If the abuse is coming from a son or daughter, they also want to maintain that relationship.” SRV offers free confidential advice through their helpline, as well as ongoing assistance from lawyers, social workers and other advocates, if needed.
“We want to help older people have the confidence to assert, manage and preserve their rights.”
The whole community needs to be involved
SRV also runs training in the workplace, particularly with home and community care organisations, to help staff identify and report elder abuse.
“Carers often worry that they are going to offend the victim if they raise the issue.
“We suspect that a lot of elder abuse goes unreported, because of course we only hear from those who speak up about it.”
Ms Blakey said WEEAD is an important date for the whole community, not just older people. Photography students of Bendigo Senior Secondary College have shown their support through a collection of images representing older people active in sport, dance and other age-defying activities. Ms Blakey said the exhibition, entitled The Best Is Yet To Be, highlights the positive contribution seniors make to community life, which often goes unnoticed.
We need to respect older people
“We live in a culture that values youth,” Ms Blakey said. “Older people are not accorded the same respect as younger people,” she said. “It’s really important that we have an integrated and respectful society because our lifespan is longer than ever before.”