When people put their elderly loved ones into care, the last thing they expect is for them to be abused or taken advantage of.
In an exclusive report that ran on 9 News on Saturday night, it is alleged a carer has been caught punching and slapping a dementia patient so badly that she ended up bruised and needing medical treatment.
The sickening attack reportedly occurred in Wollongong in New South Wales and a woman has been charged for the horrific crimes. It is believed a man contacted police after hearing disturbing noises coming from his neighbour’s house.
The carer was being paid to keep the elderly dementia patient safe, but that’s not what ended up happening.
“It’s disturbing. Absolutely disturbing,” neighbour Steve LeeBold told 9 News. “I felt sick to my stomach. A poor lady, defenceless, with no way to communicate to the outside world.”
According to the report, LeeBold heard yelling and “sustained verbal abuse” through a double-brick wall. Police looked through a back window where it is alleged the dementia patient fell over, while her carer punched her in the thigh.
“There’s an allegation that once she fell, she obviously tried to regain composure and her legs were taken out from underneath her by the young lady,” Inspector Donald Faulds told 9 News. “Very upsetting to see an elderly person treated in that way.”
The lady was taken to Wollongong Hospital where she is currently being treated for bruising to her face and legs. Authorities are now seeking alternative accommodation for the woman, as well as a new carer.
The attacker has been released on bail, although she’s not allowed to go near victim. Worryingly, police believe the abuse could have unknowingly continued if it wasn’t for the concerned neighbour contacting them. For LeeBold, he said it was a “huge relief” his neighbour’s carer has been caught.
“I don’t think I realised how much of a burden it was having that going on next door until it was quiet,” he told 9 News.
Elder abuse can take place in a number of different ways, although physical and mental are most common. According to the Elder Abuse Prevent Unit, abuse typically occurs when there is an imbalance of power between two people.
In many cases, the dominant person is known to the person being abused, meaning abuse tends to happen within a relationship of trust. Emotional, psychological, financial, physical, sexual abuse or neglect are all considered forms of abuse.
In Australia, as many as one in 10 older Australians experience abuse in older age. There is help available, with the Elder Abuse Helpline available in all major states and territories across the country. In Queensland, call 1300 651 192. For New South Wales, dial 1800 628 881. Canberra’s number is 02 6242 5060, while Victorians can call 1300 368 821. The number for Tasmania is 03 6237 0047 and South Australians can call 08 8232 5377. The number for the Northern Territory is 1800 037 072 and Western Australia’s is 1300 724 679.