Elder abuse is an act that causes harm to an older person. It can be physical, social, financial, psychological, emotional, or sexual, and may include mistreatment or neglect. The abuse is usually carried out by someone the older person knows and trusts, (such as a son, daughter, grandchild, friend or carer), often making it difficult to report. It can affect anyone, irrespective of background, gender, ethnicity or means. However all forms of abuse, no matter ones age, are unacceptable.
The research shows that around 5% of older people experience elder abuse, however the real incidence is believed to be higher as rates are under reported. The abuse of older people is not a new social problem, and there is no evidence overall that indicates abusive situations are becoming more prevalent. However the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified that the reported incidence of abuse towards older people is likely to increase due to:
- the increasing numbers of older people over the next 15 years, particularly those aged over 75 years
- the increasing longevity of the population
- the increasing prevalence of people with dementia.
CVPCP Elder Abuse Prevention Guidelines and Pathway
Abuse involving older people is a complex and sensitive social problem which requires equally careful and considered responses. To help protect the safety and wellbeing of older adults, the Victorian Government developed an action plan and evaluation measures. This document guided the development of the 2012-13 Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership catchment-wide integrated capacity building plan aimed to support organisations to respond in a sensitive manner. Staff education was undertaken and a cross catchment pathway developed, based on the With respect to age – 2009 protocols (refer to The Central Victorian Primary Care Partnership Elder Abuse Prevention Guidelines and Pathway document)
Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) www.seniorsrights.org.au – 1300 368 821, provides a free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service.
Key Elder Abuse Prevention Resources
- With respect to age – 2009: Victorian Government practice guidelines for health services and community agencies for the prevention of elder abuse
- Elder abuse prevention and response guidelines for action 2012 – 2014
- Seniors Rights Victoria, online Elder abuse response toolkit
- Elder abuse prevention section of the Seniors online website
Workforce and Capacity Building: Learning Modules
SRV has developed free e-learning modules to help build the capacity of staff, volunteers and anyone who comes in contact with older people