The overlooked tragedy happening in our community 130



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We’ve worked our whole lives to enjoy our money and relax when we retire, but what is it about a pensioner that makes them such an easy target for crime? Not all of us are frail or rich, yet elder abuse is soaring in this country.

Just yesterday, an 86-year-old man was robbed and bashed as he withdrew money from an ATM in Bankstown, NSW. The victim, Frank Carlino, said he felt numb after the attack that left him bruised and with missing teeth. Thankfully, the three abusers were later caught by police. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident and there are many cases of crimes against seniors every year, an overlooked tragedy in our neighbourhoods. There seems to be an assumption that the older you are, the more money you have, yet Frank Carlino was withdrawing his full pension to live on and, as so many of us know, it is not much.

Stealing from seniors and pensioners is not new and is a type of elder abuse. Elder abuse is physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse and can also be related to neglect as well. Random attacks might not be able to be helped but you can advise a friend or family member to conceal their money and not withdraw large amounts when alone. It can occur within the trusted confines of family, friends, care facilities and neighbourhood, and could be happening right under your nose to someone you know – one in 10 of us will suffer from it in some way.

According to Marilyn Crabtree from SA’s Aged Rights Advocacy, says “It’s an exploitation of the older person’s rights. And financial abuse would have to be one of the most commonly reported forms of abuse that we see, and usually psychological abuse would go along with that because people intimidate you; they don’t just ask nicely ‘can you please give me a cheque for $10,000?’: they intimidate you into giving them the money”.

There are organisations who can provide information and support for victims and families of elder abuse around the country, but what are the warning signs and how can you help someone who is suffering?


Behavioural signs

Sometimes you may be able to tell there is something wrong without the person having to say it – their behaviour has changed and you’re worried. If you notice a sudden or unusual behavioural pattern in your friend or family member, it’s time to get them help and offer support.

Behavioural signs that a senior may be being abused:

  • Afraid of people
  • Irritable or easily upset
  • Depressed or withdrawn
  • Lack of interest
  • Changing sleep patterns
  • Changing eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Attacks of shaking, trembling or crying
  • Rigid posture
  • Presenting as helpless, hopeless or sad
  • Contradictory statements not from mental confusion
  • Reluctance to talk openly
  • Avoiding contact – eye, physical or other
  • Waiting for another person to answer
  • Worried or anxious for no obvious reason
  • Any radical change in a person’s behaviour


Types of elder abuse and signs


  • Losing money, jewellery, silverware, paintings or furniture with no explanation
  • Forced to change Will or a legal document to include abuser
  • Denial of access to own funds
  • Forging of signatures


  • Verbal intimidation i.e. being forced into making decisions against own will
  • Humiliation and harassment – being called names or experiencing behaviours that are degrading, in a public or private place
  • Shouting
  • Threats of physical Harm
  • Threats of institutionalisation – “Do what I say or I’ll put you in a home”
  • Withholding of affection – refusing to give access to grandchildren


  • Cut off from the support of friends or family members
  • Not allowed to use the telephone or having calls monitored
  • Not allowed to socialise or meet neighbours
  • Being told by abuser that friends or family are “interfering”


  • Being hit, slapped, pushed, punched, kicked, beaten, bitten, scratched, shook, dragged or burnt
  • Physical restraint such as being tied or secured to a chair or being locked in a room


  • Rape – sexual intercourse without consent
  • Indecent assault – inappropriate sexual handling and touching
  • Sexual harassment – inappropriate comments and labelling about general appearance, attitude and behaviour
  • Any behaviour that makes an older person feel uncomfortable about their body or gender


  • Inadequate food and drink
  • Isolation, lack of mental, physical, social or cultural contact/stimulation
  • Inadequate supervision or left unattended for long periods or locked in the house without any supervision
  • Inadequate or inappropriate use of medication
  • Unmet physical needs such as decaying teeth or overgrown nails
  • Clothing may be in poor repair or inadequate for the season
  • Poor hygiene or inadequate skin care
  • Urine rash with abrasions and chafing
  • Pressure areas over the pelvis, hips, heels or elbows
  • Hypothermia, recent colds, bronchitis or pneumonia


Get help for someone you suspect is being elder abused

Crisis or respite care 

Community support services – i.e. home nursing, housekeeping and other assistance. See more information here for services in your state.

Counselling – i.e. individual or family

Alternative accommodation 

Legal interventions i.e. lay criminal charges in cases of financial abuse or severe physical abuse (particularly where there is a history of domestic violence).


Do you know anyone who has been abused in any of these ways in their 60s? Do you feel that it is a large issue in our community? Is enough being done? Tell us your thoughts and stories below.



Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Just recently as I was leaving a MacDonalds store I passed a table where a well dressed woman in her fifties was sitting with her parents. I heard this woman say to her mother, “don’t you ever do that again mum”. Do you hear me, don’t you ever do that again”. Doesn’t sound like much, but the tone in that woman’s voice was pure ugly. The mother hung her head, the father said notning to defend his wife. Both parents just sat there quietly. That’s abuse. When your parents get old and need you, just as you needed them when you were a child, and you treat them like that. It’s abuse.

    6 REPLY
    • that is disgusting talking like that to your Mother why her Father didn’t defend his wife could be because that disgusting daughter may have threatened to put them into a nursing home I would have loved to have been there I don’t care I would have said something to her

    • It goes deeper than threats of a nursing home, those parents probably loved that daughter with all their hearts and the fear of losing her in their old age is enough to tolerate things you shouldn’ is that in my case anyway

    • And that’s it in a nutshell Libbi. Once they have become dependant on an adult child then they over time become more and more afraid of losing that child. Nobody wants to fight with their adult children, especially as we get older. Well, most people don’t, so they tolerate whatever comes their way. My mum got to a stage when she would cry if I was out of her sight. It was awful. That wasn’t because she loved me so much, it was because the poor old soul was terrified without me. It’s an awful thing.

      Cheryl, as much as it hurt to witness that I had two 4 year old grandsons with me. I was not about to take that woman on and allow them to witness her attack on me, because trust me, that woman was vicious. The kids did not need to see that. I did turn to my 32 year old daughter though and say if you ever speak to me like that no matter how old I get look out. Not sure if that woman heard it as I was about two tables away by then, but as much as I wasn’t whispering, I wasn’t quiet either. My daughter had heard it to and she was also mortified.

    • My parents were alcoholics. I know the abuse I copped as a child. I knew as a child that it was wrong to treat people the way we were treated, I knew that because the beltings and neglect made me feel bad inside. When my parents both suffered dementia from alcohol abuse I still took care of them. Did they deserve the care they got from me in their old age. Maybe not, but two wrongs don’t make a right and anyone who suffers abuse should know better than to pass it on. No one should humiliate another human being like that. If you can’t stand your parents because they abused you. Stay away. Don’t hang around for pay back time. That makes you worse than them.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Indeed shocking, and so uncalled for. Cruelty to old people and children makes my blood boil.



  2. I am glad they got all those lowlifes and throw the book at them. Maybe their punishment should be to help out in an old people’s home to show how little they get to live on without bastards like them stealing the little they have.

    Unfortunately the older generation are not comfortable with the internet (& can’t afford it) so they withdraw all their money and these predators just wait for it on pension days.

    If they had to help out (with supervision) & cook their meals & clean their home etc maybe, just maybe they may get a better idea of what it is like being a pensioner.

    Just a thought.

    1 REPLY
    • Did you really think this through??? You want people who rob you in your home so they can have another go.??? Not me. Put the bastards in gaol where they belong or make them work at hard labor on a chain gang.

      1 REPLY
  3. Any one who is violent towards the elderly have, in my opinion, no place in our society. They are gutless cowards. Those working in our justice system should be doing their best to rid our society of these scumbags!

    2 REPLY
    • They only get a “slap on the wrist”! Meanwhile, the elderly victims have to put up with physical pain & mental anguish, which they don’t deserve!

    • unfortunately I have seen this happen too many times. Its good that you are now strong. when we give our children so much love it is tragic to see they way some of them treat their parents. take care

  4. It’s an absolute disgrace the way so many of our young people have no regard whatsoever for looking after and protecting the elderly. When we were young we were taught to respect everyone, especially the older generation. Today greed – and usually from the motivation of needing more drugs or under the influence of alcohol – has become the driving force behind so much crime. I wish the authorities, especially the ultimate legal jurisdiction, had guts enough to put in place punishment/deterrents that actually fitted this form of gutless crime. Picking on someone so much frailer than yourself was the lowest form of treatment for anyone but not today. Now so many see it as easy street for them.

  5. I was headed that way, for the last 20 odd years since my son met his wife, I have been used and abused, not major thing but things that have hurt me, for instance one Christmas , my son and his wife had a bbq and invited everyone except me, I sat at home alone , he came to my house later in the day to collect his presents from me and stayed about half an hour and left. Another time he came to the doctor with me and I was chatting to a lady, just lovely day and stuff like that and he told me in front of her to shut up and what is worse..I did. And so much more it would take me all day type it My son is an only child and most of my family are dead. BUT enough is enough The crunch came a couple of weeks ago and he started getting annoyed with me as soon as he saw me, it ended up with me walking out and I have not contacted him since. Don’t think for one minute I am a perfect person but I have always loved and cherished my boy

    26 REPLY
    • maybe its time to change your will also.. My eldest son tells me I am a piece of shit he has rubbish everywhere so in the new year after daughter has got all her things out of here the house is going on the market.. I hope I get enough from the sale after paying the rest of my house out to have a nice life… the onlyone who does anything for me is youngest son .. he lives in qld I asked him what he thought me shifting there.. he never said yes either .. I know they have to have their own lives but I am so sick of being treated like dirt..

    • that is disgusting to leave u at home on Christmas Day while him and his wife had a slap up bbq I would have said something to him but did he give u a Christmas present?? I know what I would be doing next Christmas… I know it hurts u being treated like this so I would treat him the same way… and change my will.. and put clause in it he cant contest it…

    • how did u find out he had invited a lot of other ppl ?? well I would have gone there and made them look like the not so nice ppl they are… then walked out.. and took my presents with me

    • I know one lady up the street from me..wasn’t invited to Chirstmas lunch so I made her a plate of food up covered it with foil knocked on her door told her I had left her lunch and she had better eat it other wise it will go cold.. I knew she was home and didn’t want ppl there so I left it and sure enough she came out and later told me that was the only contact she had with anyone that day… and was thankful for the lovely roast lunch and pudding

    • My ex husband rang me later in the day and told me, it broke my heart. I should not be typing this I am a softy and now I am in tears.. never mind I will go outside and do the laundry and I will feel better later

      1 REPLY
      • Hi Libbi,
        It was a mean and spiteful thing for your son and his wife to do, especially at Christmas. I wouldn’t have given him any presents. I would have taken them back to the shop and got a refund then spent the money on myself.


    • Well done Libbi!! It mustn’t have been easy for you to stand up for yourself after all these years. But you did! Everyone deserves respect and you have found self respect.

    • I feel sad for you Libby…and know that your not on your own in this..take care of you.

    • So sorry for you but keep the memories of the little boy who loved you and ignore the brat he has become. One day he will realise just how horrible he has been or maybe karma will get him. Any rate be brave and try to enjoy life without him.

    • Libbi that is awful. I am so sorry. I hope you don’t have gifts for them this year. Rewarding that kind of behaviour isn’t on. Kay is right, your son will get this back through his own children. I can’t believe he told you to shut up. I get why you did it though, the shock of that would’ve shut you up quick smart. But wow! Congratulations on being strong enough to recognise that you actually did shut up and you shouldn’t have. It is so hard to stand up for ourselves against adult children, we don’t want to lose them or our grandkids if we have them. But as soon as we allow them to start talking to or treating us with disrespect we are on the way to losing them anyway.

    • Sadly it happens more than we realize when our children marry! Family is not always blood it is those who are there for you. It hurts Libbi and I know you are missing out (even if it is only abuse now) however your son has lost a lot more. Be happy that ill stuff him up. 🙂

    • So true, Babs! I wanted to nominate my parents to migrate here in the ’80s for a better life, but they refused for their “friends” are within their vicinity & well bonded. They preferred to be amongst friends rather than flesh & blood! I fully understood why, safety & security abounds in their own neighbourhood! Hate to think of what could have happened to them here, alone & in a strange place, while hubby & i were out working. There were “elder”abuse in those days too (buses, check-out counters in supermarkets, sidewalks) but more so now than ever before!

    • My heart goes out to you Libbi, what’s that saying…”a son is a son til he gets him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life”. I have recently found this to be true also. Take care

    • so sad for you Libbi but well done for standing up for yourself. You sound like a lovely strong lady. Take care of yourself and find somewhere else for xmas there a lots of people who care x

    • Libbi Elliot, I have been there myself! My boys are always welcome at my house but these days it’s my house my rules. I am NOT going to be blackmailed either by the respective partners ‘re the grandchildren! In many ways I am soft and a ” bleeding heart” but I will not have innocent children used as pawns and now the two eldest grandies talk to me regularly by FB.
      You have done nothing wrong and just by your posts we know you are a good and compassionate person. One day your son will come back I only hope it isn’t too late for him! We can only take so much before we say enough is enough xx

    • Am bloody sure he wouldn’t get any more presents from me ungrateful bastard, bet he will put his hand up when anything happens to you no point in changing your will he will only contest it and win which pisses me off should be allowed to leave you money etc to who you please that would meek kids like that think again maybe

    • I think we all know about cases like that and how sad it is for all involved! But we have to make a stand for our own well being’s sake and put young adults into their place or it might escalate into much worse!

    • I can relate to Libbis case. I have been divorced for around 30+ years and live on my own each Xmas my daughter would call me and tell me where we were going for xmas lunch. As each year it was a different relative on her husbands side of the family. I would buy a xmas present for the host of the day or even offer to pay for the meal. I was always welcomed with open arms from my son in laws relatives. Then one day my daughters mother in law tells her that I should not be attending their xmas day dinners because I am not related to her husbands side of the family. But it was ok for me to go to her place only I asked my daughter not to tell her husband what his mother had told her cause my son in law would have torn his mother to strips. It was then that I started to go to the Philippines and with my friend and his wife who owns a hotel there , I started to play santa on xmas days for around 100 street kids. I would send boxes of donated toys and my friend and his wife would cook up 100 meals and drinks. It was a real joy just to see the look on the kids faces when they got a present and a meal with a drink. Now after many years of my daughters husband asking her why I am not attending their xmas day dinner, She told him why and needless to say he sorted his mother out in no uncertain terms. My son in law could not apologise to me enough. Now my daughter is happy that it all came to a head as she did not like keeping our secret from her husband. I still play santa each year and very happy knowing that I am giving some joy to the street kids. Walking the streets of Manila before the days leading up to the xmas party ,The kids will come and greet you and say Hello Santa it is good to see you again. That in itself makes me feel a humble person. Sorry for the ramble..

    • Libby, I would love to have you here for my Christmas, only if you live in QLD, and between Toowoomba and Blacksoil. Will pick you up and take you home. It has to be Christmas ewe. Nordic Christmas

    • Oh, Libby, my heart breaks for you. I really trust that you will find a family who will take you under their wing and love you the way you deserve. A suggestion I could give is to get involved in a local church as I’m sure they have many people who can lift your spirits and bring you cheer, especially at this time of year. If you ring them I’m sure they could even give your name and number to someone who could help just to let you know you’re cared about.

    • In reply to Maggie Cooper’s comment and for your info, Libby, I believe that if you put a clause in your will as to why you don’t want someone receiving anything the judge/lawyers take this into account if it is contested. Just make sure you talk to a good lawyer when you make your will so he understands the situation and can word it appropriately.

      1 REPLY
      • I may be wrong Jeni but if you don’t want someone to receive anything from your will and they not contest it, don’t you have to leave a certain amount to them so they can’t, say like 5 grand or some amount? The laws may have changed but that’s what my father did to stop my brother contesting his will…. Sad because my brother did nothing to deserve what happened…

    • It’s not fair is it after all we do for them.
      I am totally on my own now, my daughter died at 25 both parents gone & recently grandson moved interstate with his dad!
      I could be laying dead in this place for Lord knows how long! 🙁

    • Pam I hope you have some nice friends near you or you could be my FB friend I am in Melbourne xox

    • I have an abusive alcoholic sister who had her child removed by DOCS and was raised by me. Our family took years of abuse, especially my mother, until we cut all ties with her. Blood is NOT thicker than water as the saying goes, and I don’t love someone just because they are related. That’s an accident of birth. We all deserve to be treated properly and if our siblings/parents/child abuse & use us then as far as I go, they not in my life. Harsh? Yes! But I don’t want my life full of pain and agony because of the action of a so called loved one. I still love my little sister, the one I grew up with, but the adult is toxic and I can’t stand her. My children would be out of my life if they started treating me like crap as well. Yep I’m a hard nosed bitch and I don’t apologise for it. I went through hell with my sister, never never again

  6. Older people that are really abused would not tell you about it here, they don’t tell anyone because of fear of repercussions.

  7. It is truly sad that there is no respect for our elderly ,it’s becoming a very big problem in this country and we should be ashamed.We all get there in time and what goes around will come around .Without the older generation we would not be here .

  8. Actually, this is one of the reasons I’m not in favor of euthanasia, I’m absolutely sure that many elderly one way or another would be forced to agree.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree Helen. It’s disappointing to see the value of respect on the decline. The elderly are baring the brunt of this trend. They deserve better.

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