Preventing Elder Abuse

Article 24 March 2021

A growing area of the law that will affect us all as we age is Elder Law, which is now seen as a discrete and specialised area of the law.

The fact is that around 30 per cent of the Australian population is made up of seniors and baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1954. The percentage of seniors or elders is only going to increase due to falling birth rates, the “baby boomer” generation getting older, and people living longer.

Unfortunately, as our population ages, the incidents of elder abuse are also set to rise.  Elder abuse is the mistreatment of an older person, by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust, such as a partner/spouse, family member, friend or carer.

We have all heard horror stories of the elderly being abused or taken advantage of.  The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care in Australia has also highlighted the terrible conditions facing many of our elderly citizens in nursing homes around the country.  Sadly, elder abuse is not limited to institutions and can take several forms including emotional and physical abuse, neglect, psychological abuse and financial abuse (whereby a family member or friend may strip bank accounts or sell property).

Elder abuse violates an older person’s basic rights to feel safe.  It is a controlling behaviour or action that frightens or intimidates an elderly person and it can be illegal. One of the most difficult things to comprehend is that the abuse is often at the hands of people the victim trusts the most – such as a family member, or carer.

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Unfortunately, some lawyers acting on behalf of the elderly do not fully understand the obligations imposed upon them.

Appointing a lawyer who is specifically experienced in the field of Elder Law and is passionate about advocating for the elderly is the first step in preventing potential elder abuse. 

An experienced elder law practitioner can work with other professionals, such as healthcare workers or financial advisors, to determine the best possible course of action to address or prevent potential abuse.  They can then set-up formal arrangements regarding an elderly person’s financial affairs, welfare and medical care, to ensure the ongoing protection of their client.

If you, or someone you know, is at risk of elder abuse or has been mistreated in some way contact CDQ Director, Geraldine Daley AM, for a confidential discussion today.  Geraldine is a member of National Seniors Australia and is passionate about protecting our most vulnerable generation, lending both her voice and expertise to National Seniors’ campaigns and advocacy programs to help prevent elder abuse.