When support from family and friends becomes diminished, the elderly can be at risk of ‘elder abuse’.
One of the challenges in tackling elder abuse is raising awareness, as very often older people are not aware the conditions that they are experiencing constitute abuse, neither are they aware of the channels that might help them address the problem.
Recently the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) helped fund an elder-abuse awareness-raising program, which is being delivered by Katja McPherson from the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre.
Ms McPherson says they came up with an informal ‘bingo card’ approach to identifying some of the flags of elder abuse. The elder abuse awareness program is delivered to social groups and day groups and people attending are asked to go through the Bingo Card and mark off if they are aware of anyone who shows these signs.
‘The bingo cards have things like, ‘I don’t know what’s in my bank account, or I am lonely, or I was forced to change my Will,’ says Katja.
She says, ‘The main aspect of elder abuse is financial abuse with inheritance impatience. People saying, “Oh, Mum, you don’t need the big house, we’ll move in and build you a granny flat.” In some cases the family moves in, but the granny flat is never built.’
‘We talk about having the power of attorney and having someone you trust in that role.’
In delivering the session to about 180 older people and service providers, Katja said the main issue that stopped people seeking help was fear of repercussions.
‘People are worried that their family may become angry and in some cases that they may experience violence. All the services and help lines are available to them.’
For anyone interested in finding out about more or having a session delivered go to www.elderabusehelpline.com.au or contact the Norther Rivers Community Legal Centre.