Elder abuse refers to the harm inflicted upon an older person by someone they know and trust. While elder abuse can take many different forms, the most common ones include emotional abuse, financial abuse and neglect. The most fundamental element of elder abuse is that the abuser is someone that is known to the older person and whom they have a trusting relationship with.

What are the types of elder abuse?

There are many different forms of elder abuse, including:

  • Physical abuse: inflicting pain or injury towards an older person through the form of physical violence or using restraints.
  • Neglect: failing to provide basic life necessities including food, water, medical care and shelter, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Psychological abuse: any actions that causes fear of violence, isolation, deprivation, humiliation or powerlessness.
  • Financial abuse: illegally or improperly using an older person’s finances. Also includes forcing an older person to change their will or sign over assets.
  • Sexual abuse: any form of sexual actions, language and activity that is non-consensual.
  • Social abuse: excluding the older person from social gatherings, events or other activities that causes them to lose control of their contact with their friends, family and community.

Why does elder abuse occur?

Elder abuse often occurs when the abuser is experiencing high levels of stress themselves. This may be due to the pressures of being a carer, health issues, addiction problems or financial stress. Elder abuse can also occur due to negative views and stereotypes of ageing within our society. What is important to remember is that elder abuse is never okay; there is no excuse for elder abuse.

Who are the abusers?

For elder abuse to occur, the abuser is someone who is close to the victim. Commonly, the abuser is a child, spouse, grandchild, partner, parent, friend or neighbour.

Where do I get help for elder abuse?

If your safety is in immediate danger, contact 000. Otherwise, if you are worried about yourself or someone you may know, it is important that you speak up. It can be helpful to find someone outside of the situation that you can talk to. This may be a family member, friend or health professional. The elder abuse hotline for West Australians is 1300 724 679.

If you would like more information, please contact Southcare on 08 6117 3050.