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Increase of elder abuse during COVID-19

6 May, 2020

Seniors Rights Victoria have issued an alert highlighting the potential increase of Elder Abuse in the community as a hidden affect of the COVID-19 emergency.

Research suggests that up to 14 per cent of older people may experience it in the form of physical, emotional, financial, social or sexual abuse.

Elder abuse can cause stress, anxiety and depression and lead to increased risk of ill health, hospitalisation and early death.

Seniors Rights Victoria Manager, Jenny Blakey said the major stress being caused by the unprecedented and drastic changes to the social fabric of Australia could cause an increase in elder abuse.

“Elder abuse is any mistreatment of an older person by another person with whom they have a relationship of trust. Often that person is a family member or carer, but it could be a friend or neighbour on whom they depend.”

Ms Blakey said in the current economic climate with large numbers of job losses and people being unable to pay their rent or home loans, the trend to move and live with older parents or other relatives will be driven by financial necessity. 

“Depending on family relationships and arrangements this may work out, however, at Seniors Victoria we deal with cases that have resulted in elder abuse.”

On many occasions the problem of elder abuse is raised with Seniors Rights Victoria by a family member or a friend who has concerns for a person’s welfare.  

The different forms of elder abuse are ways for another person to take over or control the life or property of an older person, Ms Blakey said.

Some forms of elder abuse are criminal acts, for example, acts involving theft or fraud.

Elder abuse is a lack of respect and violates an older person’s basic right to feel safe.