Let's talk about elder abuse

A recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found those who were socially isolated and had poor quality relationships with family and friends were most vulnerable to elder abuse.

Having good friends, and being respected and liked by your family helped significantly but there was no guarantee.

While this sounds like common sense that previous generations probably took for granted, the AIFS report makes for interesting reading to those who want to understand the rise of contemporary forms of elder abuse.

As an overview, the paper 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.

For example, it explains that the term 'elder abuse' covers a range of harmful behaviours including physical, emotional, neglect and sexual and financial abuse.

Surprisingly, the paper claims there is currently no national data on the prevalence of elder abuse in Australia.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do to better understand what is happening in Australia.

However, 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.

Older people need to be valued more and feel included in Australian society, communities and families. It’s a two-way thing, that requires generational understanding, empathy and kindness.

Looking to the future, the paper recommends a lot more research into building better relationships, as well as intervention strategies that aim to reduce risk and prevent elder abuse.