People with dementia at risk for elder abuse

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elder abuse
elder abuse

Today on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Dementia Australia is urging all Australians to know the warning signs of elder abuse and to be alert to vulnerable Australians, including people who live with dementia.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said elder abuse is a serious issue that is likely to have become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on international indicators, it is likely that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence possibly higher during a time when people living with dementia were isolating at home, Ms McCabe said.

“While not all people living with dementia will be vulnerable to elder abuse, COVID-19 and self-isolation may have increased the risk factors, including financial stress within families with the loss of employment and unchecked family conflict in confined living circumstances, similar to the experience of women and children who are experiencing increased family violence.

An estimated 459,000 Australians live with dementia and 70 per cent live in the community. Some of the warning signs of elder abuse to look out for include:

*Unnecessary levels of isolation that go beyond government restrictions

*Changes in the older person’s behaviour, with the person disengaging from family members, health, aged care and other services, or making threats of self-harm or expressions of hopelessness

*The older person being prevented access to potential supports and modes of communication (such as phone or internet)

*Large sums of money to pay for unspecified items being requested or spent

Elder Abuse hotlines

ACT – Older Persons Abuse Prevention Referral Line – (02) 6205 3535

NSW – NSW Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 628 221

NT – Elder Abuse Information Line – 1800 037 072

QLD – Elder Abuse Prevention Unit – 1300 651 192

SA – Elder Abuse phoneline – 1800 372 310

TAS – Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 441 169

For further information visit dementia.org.au or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.