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Elder Abuse is everybody’s business

June 15  is World Elder Abuse Awaness Day, and as more than 90% of people living with dementia are over the age of 65, it is certainly a very relevant issue for our members and their families.

Hence, like many other organisations Dementia Alliance International joins the world in speaking out against all forms of abuse, neglect, segregation, incarceration, institutionalisation and exploitation of all older adults.

Our Elders matter.

The World Health Organisation says “… Because the numbers of older persons are growing, the amount of elder abuse can be expected to grow with it. While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world, it remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans.

Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.”

The WHO Key Facts on Elder Abuse state:

  • Around 1 in 6 older people experience some form of abuse, a figure higher than previously estimated and predicted to rise as populations age worldwide.
  • Rates of abuse may be higher for older people living in institutions than in the community.
  • Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.
  • Elder abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.
  • The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.

A study done by Comparitech on the prevalence of Elder Abuse in the USA is deeply concerning, and we imagine studies inmost countries are likely to be much the same.

Key findings:

Only 1 in 23.5 incidents of elder fraud are reported to authorities, according to a 2011 report from the New York City Department for the Aging and Cornell University. Here are some of the key findings at a national level, based on that figure:

  • 1 in 10 elderly people in the US fell victim to elder fraud in the last year
  • More than 5 million incidents of elder fraud occur every year in total
  • The average loss per case reported to Adult Protective Services is $2,415
  • In total, losses due to elder fraud total $27.4 billion each year
  • 38% of fraud cases target the elderly
  • Debit cards were the most common product involved with elder fraud cases (32.9%), followed by credit cards (11.6%) and bank deposit accounts (10%)

Elder abuse is not unique to any country, and in Australia there is currently a Royal Commission in to Aged Care.

An article Australia’s elder abuse scandal ‘beyond belief’ published in September 2018, the following is of great concern.

Community leaders say the true scale of elder abuse is unknown but anecdotal evidence has suggested it is a dark and deep-rooted problem.

“It is a scandal beyond belief,” says Reverend Bill Crews from Australia’s Uniting Church.

“How we can behave to one another – when we are not watched by others – is beyond belief. It started with young people. It is now with old people. We are a society where love is vanishing and the inevitable outcome of that is a lot of pain.”

The rights of persons of any age, with any condition must be upheld, and it is very clear this is not the case for people with dementia,  or indeed older persons who require any form of assistance or care.

Elder abuse is everybody’s business!