Age Concern Otago - Elder Abuse Response Service
What is elder abuse?
Elder Abuse and Neglect is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Definition adopted from WHO Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2002
Our Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) is a free and confidential service employing professional staff to work with older people and their carers, providing support and advocacy so that older people can be happy, healthy and safe.
What does Age Concern Otago offer you?
- Listen, and discuss problems relating to abuse and neglect.
- Offer options which may include referral to other professional agencies.
- Support informed choices.
- Work with a resource team to assist victims, caregivers and their families.
- Education and awareness sessions are delivered to aged care workers and health professionals, community groups, organisations with an interest in the wellbeing of older people.
Reduce abuse of older people through intervention and education. Support older people to make well informed choices.
Raise awareness of elder abuse & neglect with:
- Older people
- Their families
- Those who care for older people
- Those who work with older people
- The community
What can you do to stop elder abuse?
- Treat older people with respect
- Challenge ageist attitudes
- Don’t ignore it, get help
- Know how to recognise signs of elder abuse and neglect.
What are the warning signs?
The following MAY indicate an older person is being abused:
• Unexplained behaviour, sleeping or eating habits
• Withdrawal and/or edginess
• Fear of a particular person
• Unexplained injuries
• Drowsiness (due to over-medication)
• Recoiling from touch
• Unusual withdrawals from bank accounts
• Unpaid bills, lack of money for necessities.
Why don’t older people seek help when they are abused?
Some of the reasons why an older person does not tell anyone about the abuse are:
- They blame themselves for the abuse
- They are ashamed that the abuser is a family member
- They depend on the abuser for support
- They have low self-confidence and self-esteem
- They don’t want to make a fuss
- They are afraid that if they complain the abuse will get worse
- They are isolated, making it difficult for them to tell anyone
- They do not know who to tell or how to get help
- They have dementia or an illness that prevents them from telling anyone.
There Are Many Forms Of Abuse
Behaviour causing mental anguish, stress or fear. For example:
- ridicule or threats
- harassment or humiliation
- preventing choice or decision-making
- withholding affection.
Illegal or improper use of money, property or other assets. For example:
- unauthorised taking of money or possessions
- misuse of power of attorney
- failure to repay loans
- use of home and/or utilities without contributing to costs
- scams that rely on establishing a relationship with the older person with the intention of exploiting their savings and/or assets, e.g. romance scams.
Infliction of pain, injury or use of force. For example:
- hitting, pushing, rough handling
- inappropriate use of restraints or confinement.
Not providing for physical, emotional or social needs. For example:
- inadequate food, clothing, shelter
- lack of social contact, support
- health needs not attended to.
Non-consensual sexual acts or exploitive behaviours. For example:
- inappropriate touching
- sexual acts with someone unable to give consent.
A policy or accepted practice within an organisation that disregards a person’s rights or causes harm. For example:
- lack of respect for a person’s culture or customs
- inappropriate rationing of continence products
- inflexible routines e.g. breakfast at 8 am in the dining room.
For research into elder abuse and neglect please click here.
There are also other providers of Elder Abuse Response Services. Contact details for all these services are available here