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Elder Abuse

Elder abuse refers to any action or inaction that puts the safety or well-being of an elderly person at risk. The abuse is often carried out by a family member or caregiver whom the victim trusts.

The reasons for elder abuse are often complex and can include caregiver stress or a history of strained relationships within the family.


Who is At Risk of Becoming a Victim of Elder Abuse

An elderly person who is:

  • Vulnerable (due to physical/mental/cognitive impairment)
  • Physically and/or financially dependent on a caregiver
  • Socially isolated
  • Easily taken advantage of (e.g. trusting of strangers and giving away money or possessions when asked)

Forms of Elder Abuse

Elder adult abuse occurs when the elderly experiences:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Conduct or behaviour that controls or dominates the elderly and causes the elderly to fear for his/her safety or well-being
  • Conduct or behaviour that unreasonably deprives, or threatens to unreasonably deprive, the elderly of freedom of movement or well-being

Effects of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can result in serious and permanent physical and psychological damage, and even death.

Other effects may include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Anger
  • Worsening mental and physical health
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse as a way of coping
  • Embarrassment

Witnessing abuse of the elderly in the family can cause post-traumatic stress in children or result in violent behaviour being normalised and perpetuated in the future.


Why Elder Abuse Victims May Not Report the Abuse

Victims of elder abuse may not report the violence for any of the following reasons:

  • As the perpetrator is often a family member, the elderly may worry about their family‚Äôs privacy or that legal action might be taken against the perpetrator
  • They may fear:
    • Rejection and disruption to their lives
    • Retaliation
    • Embarrassment
    • Shame
  • They may feel that they deserve the abuse and accept it
  • For elderly with cognitive impairments or mental health conditions, they may not be aware that they are being abused and/or may not be able to report the abuse
  • They may be financially or emotionally dependent on the perpetrator, and therefore be unwilling to leave the perpetrator or report the abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) takes place on 15 June every year and has been recognised by the United Nations General Assembly since 2011.

Elder abuse is not a private matter. Together we can keep our seniors safe. Watch the video for more information.

 

For more information on the types of elder abuse and where to seek help, please download and share the infographic below:


Break The Silence

I want to report domestic violence

I am experiencing abuse

I witnessed abuse

Contact the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline (NAVH) or the police

Seek help from a Family Service Centre, Protection Specialist Centre, Family Justice Courts, medical professional or temporary shelter

Find out how to support someone who is abused or safely interrupt the abuse