More awareness of elder abuse needed as risk to people living with dementia of increasing concern

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Today on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Dementia Australia is calling for all Australians to make themselves aware of the different forms elder abuse can take and to be alert to vulnerable Australians, including people who live with dementia. 

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said elder abuse is a serious issue.

“People living with dementia are at increased risk of elder abuse because they are a vulnerable population group,” Ms McCabe said.

“With the prevalence of dementia rising exponentially, the risk of being impacted by elder abuse is an increasing concern."

Different forms of elder abuse include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, social and financial abuse as well as neglect.  

“It is critical that effective safeguards are in place, across all states and territories, to protect people living with dementia from elder abuse,” Ms McCabe said.

“Often older people living with dementia, as with others who are abused, will not necessarily tell people what is happening and for some, cognitive decline can impair their ability to not only raise the issue but also to recall the details of what happened. On occasions when issues or complaints are raised by a person living with dementia, they are not taken seriously because of their dementia.

“There is an obligation for all levels of government, the disability, health and aged care sectors and their workforce to ensure people living with dementia are treated with the same dignity, respect and rights as everyone else and are protected against all forms of abuse.

“It is imperative that the workforce caring for people living with dementia have specialised dementia knowledge through training and education to ensure they can identify any changes in behaviour which could signal something is not right.

“We are also calling on Australians to understand the warning signs and to look out for their family member, friend, neighbour or client, and know who to call for help.”

If you know or suspect someone may be a victim of elder abuse, please contact the national Elder Abuse Phone Line on 1800 353 374 to be connected with the relevant service in your state or territory, visit Compass for information online or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia, and the almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available and the Helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au 

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Media contacts: Sarah Richards, Media & Communications Advisor, 0448 341 628, [email protected]

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.