Elder abuse: 24 reports to help line in one week

Stock image.
Stock image.

ELDER abuse advocacy group Advocare received 24 calls from victims concerned those close to them were taking advantage of them – all in just one week.

According to the organisation’s acting chief executive Deborah Costello, the elder abuse hotline had received the calls since reopening this week.

Elder abuse is an act that causes harm to an older person and occurs within an informal relationship of trust, such as family or friends.

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Types of abuse include physical, emotional, financial, sexual or social abuse, or neglect.

Financial and psychological abuses are the most common types of abuse reported to agencies such as Advocare, with 60 per cent of perpetrators the victim’s children.

Advocare predicts one in 20 older people will experience abuse and the figure will grow as the population ages.

Ms Costello said financial abuse was the most prevalent type of elder abuse, and children who found themselves financially strapped often relied on their elderly parents to bail them out.

Another trend included drug-using children who sought money from their parents.

“We are starting to see the abuse coming from children with drug addictions, who lose everything and put pressure on their parents to look after them financially,” she said.

“Property abuse is also common, where children force their parents to move from the family home or when money has changed hands with a verbal agreement and the debt goes unpaid.”

Ms Costello said while elder abuse was being reported more often, it remained hard to identify abusers.

“A key to underreporting abuse is that parents don’t want to lose a relationship with their child or grand child,” she said.

“Most abused people just want things to go back to normal.”

Ms Costello said Advocare offered counsel to those who suspected they were victims and could aid with guardianships or mediation if necessary.

She urged people suffering to speak up.

“A person knows their situation better than anyone else,” she said.

“We encourage people to seek help and not suffer in silence; everyone has the right to access help.”