Elder Abuse can occur in many forms and it doesn’t discriminate. Elder Abuse can also be hard to identify because often the person being abused feels fear, denial or shame and tries to hide the abuse.
If you’re not sure if you, or someone you know is suffering from elder abuse, it helps to know a little more.
Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers before you call the Elder Abuse Helpline. It’s ok to ask the question.
Definition of elder abuse
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines elder abuse as,
“a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Abuse is typically carried out by someone close to the older person, who they trust: their spouse or partner, children, in-laws, grandchildren, carers, neighbours or friends.
An act that causes physical pain or injury to an older person. It can include but is not limited to actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking. Inappropriate use of drugs or physical restraints are also examples of physical abuse.
Any sexual behaviour without an older person’s consent. It includes sexual interactions and non-contact acts of a sexual nature.
Psychological or emotional abuse
An act that causes emotional pain or injury to an older person. It can include insulting or threatening a person, acts of humiliation or disrespect, and controlling behaviours such as confining or isolating a person.
The misuse or theft of an older person’s money or assets. It can include behaviours such as using finances without permission, misusing a legal document such as an enduring power of attorney, withholding care for financial gain, or selling or transferring property against the older person’s wishes.
Neglect can be intentional or unintentional and occurs when the basics of life are not provided by those responsible for the care of an older person. Neglect includes the inadequate or delayed provision of housing, bedding, food, clothing, hygiene and medical or dental attention, as well as the inappropriate use of medication, such as under-medicating or over-medicating.
The Tasmanian Government acknowledges that the following types of abuse, which may also be considered to be psychological or emotional abuse, are becoming more widely known.
This is the denial or use of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to control or dominate a person, damage their spiritual experience and isolate them.