Let’s talk: Who can we call on to investigate elder abuse?

Aged care experts have called on the government to create a national body, responsible for investigating suspected cases of elder abuse.
Let's Talk

Aged care experts have called on the government to create a national body, responsible for investigating suspected cases of elder abuse. Today, Starts At Sixty wants to know whether you think this is necessary too?

Speaking at the National Elder Abuse Conference, manager Jenny Blakey said that at least 5% of older Australians become victims of physical, emotional or financial abuse from a family member or friend.

Ms Blakey believes a national organisation is necessary to oversee, investigate and manage cases of suspected abuse. She believes special training would be necessary to approach these sensitive situations.

“Not in a heavy-handed, police-approach way, because that would really scare and could really be detrimental in that sort of response”, Ms Blakey explained.

Instead, Ms Blakey suggests “a response that could come in and investigate. (To ask) is this a problem or isn’t it? And is this person being isolated so they can’t act?”

Ms Blakey also added that many cases of elder abuse go unreported, because victims are embarrassed to talk about the issues or hesitant to report their family and friends.

“(Elder abuse involves) home and community workers, people from hospitals, lawyers, financial people who might be concerned that something is going awry”, she said.

Elder abuse is currently dealt with on a state level, by either local government or non-for-profit groups. Accessing help can sometimes be difficult or confusing for families involved.

Starts At Sixty has previously covered many worrying cases of elder abuse, and today we want your thoughts too…

Should the government establish a national group to tackle elder abuse? How do you protect the older people you love? Have someone you know been impacted by elder abuse?

  1. It’s a really difficult problem this,as the victim can have misplaced loyalty towards the perpetrator,which is what I came across when I tried to intervene on behalf of s friend.
    I really don’t know how you get around that,as they just deny everything when you report it.

    • I used to deliver meals to a spotless house and neat little chatty grandmother. Then her grandson and his girlfriend came to live with her because they were unemployed. Then the house had bottles, cigarette butts and general disorder – and grandma was much less talkative, had a limp and huge bruise covering a large part of her face. She gave an elaborate description of her “falling in the bathroom” Fortunately shortly after, she visited her daughter in another state. I can only hope she told the truth there.

    • Not always misplaced loyalty Catharine FEAR for yourself or children, very real death threats, the list goes on.

  2. I don’t think we would get anywhere expecting the GOVERNMENT to set up anything for this type of abuse when the Government are experts at their own kind of abuse on the elderly, when they continually put the elderly under unnecessary stress with their constant threats.

  3. Elder abuse is mostly perpetrated by family members. There are advocacy agencies in most states to assist those experiencing elder abuse.

  4. I think it’s disgusting the way our elderly are treated, by family and governments. The have spent their lives putting in to their families and their countries for what. Different families have different issues but instead of bashing, walk away

  5. It is a terrible fact of life and one that is very difficult to stop. For the old they tend to say nothing or fear of having no where to live and no one to care (?) for them and health workers tend to put into the too hard basket because no one wants to know

  6. It is no good having any sort of organisation to investigate elder abuse if their is no strong legislation behind it. The whole area needs looking at. After all there is nothing illegal in your son or daughter entrusted with Power of Attorney, selling your home out from under you, taking all your savings and bunging you in aged care totally reliant on welfare. Siblings can’t stop them and I believe nothing can be done. Any organisation reviewing elder abuse would need to be able to take referrals from others besides the abused, nursing homes, financial institutions a family member.

    • Barbara, I understand what you are saying, but I think people really need to be more careful in handing out their Power of Attorney. Any that I’ve known that have backfired, has always been on the cards, even predictable. I notice that women seem to be more prone to predatory family. Why is that, I wonder?

    • Julie Garton yes I think it unwise to ever name one person to have sole POA. As for Mums, too many of us are totally blind when it comes to our offspring. In one of the jobs I held dealing with retirees I came across a few vile offspring ripping off Mum or Dad. One particular woman I just couldn’t get over as her mother who should have been able to comfortably afford the care she selected when fit and able, was turfed out as the daughter was waylaying her money. The law was on the daughter’s side and the payments I’d diverted to the care facility to keep her there had by law to be directed back into her daughter’s own bank account.

    • Yes my brother was awarded my mothers financial administrator by the court as he was the ‘trusted’ one by my mum but he’s the least trustworthy and did want to sell her house out from under her and use the money to improve his own house. Mothers can be blind when it comes to their favourites. Also as my mother has dementia she believed I was stealing from her and accused me of all sorts if things, the courts believed her. Now I’m the only one that sees her in the nursing home and makes sure she’s cared for properly. To make an agency to deal with this sort of thing would be difficult and the training needed would also be costly, I can’t see the government wanting to pay for that, even I’d it is needed.

    • Meredith at least if it were illegal to use others fund and direct their money into your own account, siblings could take legal action through the courts. I don’t think a Government agency could do more than offer guidance on financial matters but it could have oversight of welfare. In view of how appallingly understaffed child welfare is I can’t see anything happening for aged welfare. I do think though something has to be done about the great holes in the law when dealing with some of these financial issues.

    • It’s very hard to believe that those little children who you loved carded and protected would do such awful things to their parent but it happens. Parents mortgage their homes to set one of the kids up in business and then loose everything they worked for. Possibly the best thing is to give Power of Attorney to a solicitor.

  7. Sadly, it generally occurs within the four walls of a family ‘home’ and out of sight. There is probably little a Government agency can do to prevent its occurrence although it might apply punitive follow-up. The most important thing for all of us is to be aware that it does happen, to be alert and, if we believe a friend, neighbour or family member has been abused, report it to the Police. This is not and will never be preventive and, unfortunately, official action can not be taken on suspicions that an assault might happen. If there were to be an official elder abuse body, how far could legislation be taken to give it the power it would need without overstepping basic family right to privacy? Sad conundrum and one for which I wish I had the answer.

    • I like your thoughts on the subject of elder abuse, we need a strategy with back-up. Children & the elderly should be heard more instead of ignored as if they don’t matter!!!

  8. How low has humanity sunk. Generations ago , adult kids looked after their elderly parents because they loved and respected them. That sadly no longer applies.

  9. Age gender etc should not be in the mix. Abuse is abuse. Call the police report it. The police need to have better procedures in place to support ALL victims of DV

  10. It breaks my heart to think that elderly people are being abused by family. You should cherish your parents and look after them as they looked after you. I would report it if i saw any of this happening.

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