I think my brother is withdrawing cash from my mum’s bank account and using it for himself. My uncle has suddenly become withdrawn, depressed, angry and does not want to engage in social activities like he used to. My elderly neighbour mentioned something about being forced to sell the house.
Elder abuse has become a hot topic in recent years but is not a new problem. The publication, Elder Abuse, a National Legal Response, issued in 2016 after the National Inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into elder abuse in New South Wales is grim reading.
How can elder abuse be prevented? Everyone can help, everyone is responsible. Simply keeping in touch with your elderly relative, friends, and neighbours, talk, listen and observe. If you are worried or suspect abuse, then report it.
The ALRC is trying to raise awareness among the professionals and authorities with whom the elderly come into contact to identify and respond when they suspect abuse is occurring or has occurred.
Solicitors, banks, health professionals, government departments (such as Centrelink) are being encouraged to be aware of potential abuse and to report any suspected abuse. Recent television programmes and documentaries also help promote prevention or early intervention of abuse occurring.
How do you report elder abuse or neglect if you suspect it is happening? Telephone the confidential NSW Elder Abuse Hotline and Resources Unit on 1800 628 221. Interpreters are available if required.
Many forms of elder abuse are criminal offenses and should be reported to the New South Wales Police including physical and sexual assault, theft and fraud. If anyone is at risk or immediate harm call 000.
If it seems that there is an issue of abuse of decision-making ability by a guardian or attorney, it may be appropriate to contact the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian office.
There is no doubt that this type of abuse, like any other, can be hard to prove with evidence, but don’t let it stop you from making the call.