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Elder abuse: key issues and emerging evidence

Elder Abuse Key Issues

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has release a paper Elder abuse: key issues and emerging evidence.

The paper provides an overview of elder abuse in Australia. It discusses key issues involved in how elder abuse is defined and examines its prevalence, impact and associated risk factors, with a focus on implications of recent research for policy and practice.

It highlights that elder abuse is a multifaceted and often hidden form of abuse.

There is currently no national data on the prevalence of elder abuse in Australia. Based on international studies, it is estimated that between 2% and 14% of older people in high- or middle-income countries experience elder abuse every year. The term ‘elder abuse’ covers a range of harmful behaviours, including physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse and neglect.

Hunter elder law specialist and aged care advocate Catherine Henry from Catherine Henry Lawyers, said the Australian Institute of Family Studies Report highlights that elder abuse is, sadly, a growing, complex problem for our community.

Ms Henry agrees with a report finding that research and evaluation on specific prevention and intervention strategies are needed to protect older Australians.

But she says there are things governments should be doing now including making elder abuse a crime, the introduction of an online register of enduring powers of attorney (a common vehicle for abuse), standardised power of attorney legislation across the country, and a dedicated body to crack down on financial abuse of the elderly.

“Everyone in the community needs to do more to ensure respect older people and their rights, to listen to them, and to require our governments and institutions to do more, from a policy and legal perspective, to protect them,” Ms Henry says.

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