COTA (NT) had hoped to hold a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day conference in partnership with Darwin Community Legal Service and Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University and were successful in receiving a small grant to part-fund this from the Northern Territory Government. However, due to a lack of resources, we were unable to facilitate this conference.
Instead, COTA NT continued its work to promote awareness of elder abuse and to speak out for the need to provide solutions and help for vulnerable seniors experiencing, or at risk, of elder abuse in all its many forms.
This workshop held at COTA NT’s Spillett House facility partnered with Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS) to further promote its Elder Abuse Information Line which had been launched in April 2015.
Once again, we championed the designated colour of the awareness day, purple; provided information and literature including posters and flyers.
We used our weekly Seniors Voice column in March 2016 published in the NT News to drive awareness of the issue.
COTA NT 16/03/2015 – Seniors Voice with Stephanie Kendall
Elder abuse is any action or inaction by self or others that jeopardizes the health or well-being of any older adult. Any senior can become a victim of elder abuse regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, income or education.
The most common form of abuse is psychological, closely followed by material and or financial abuse. Abuse is more commonly inflicted upon women – of those being abused or neglected, up to 70 percent are female.
Common signs of elder abuse include confusion, depression, anxiety, unexplained injuries, changes in hygiene, seeming fearful around certain people, and fear or worry when talking about money.
Appallingly, family members commit a very high percentage of Elder Abuse and Neglect cases. For many, the thought of intentionally taking advantage of an aged relation, especially a parent who has cared for them as a child, is difficult to imagine.
A good example of how an elderly family member might fall victim to financial and emotional abuse has been highlighted with the recent economic downturn, which has especially impacted seniors. In the case of Elder Abuse and Neglect, some seniors have been pressured emotionally into giving family members access to bank accounts, allowing relations to top up their own finances.
Shame or guilt may stop a senior from revealing their abuse. Sometimes victims simply do not have the capacity to report it. Whether a victim is unable or unwilling, some of the barriers to revealing elder abuse include: fear; love for the abuser; lack of understanding or impairment; unaware of resource options; or acceptance of abuse or neglect as normal behaviour.
The Australian, State and Territory governments must tackle these serious and shocking Elder Abuse and Neglect statistics immediately. Urgent introduction of appropriate legislation to reflect the offences being committed against seniors and the very elderly must be put in place now to ensure safeguards are there for them.
Elder abuse is unacceptable and should never be tolerated. Please ask for help because you do not deserve to be abused. Contact the Elder Abuse Information Line for the Territory 1800 037 072