Respect - Prevent Elder Abuse

Older Persons ACT Legal Service (OPALS) (02) 6243 3436

Elder Abuse is any behaviour or action within a relationship of trust that harms an older person. It includes financial, psychological, physical, sexual, social abuse and neglect.

Forms of Abuse of Older People:

  • Physical Abuse: the infliction of pain or injury. This can include hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, biting, scratching, shaking, slapping, dragging, burning, inappropriately restraining or confining, inappropriately medicating, and damage to property.
  • Psychological Abuse: inflicting mental anguish through actions that cause fear of violence, isolation or deprivation, and feelings of shame and powerlessness. It may include verbal intimidation, humiliation or embarrassment, shouting, bullying, threats of physical harm, threats of institutionalisation, withdrawal of affection (e.g. refusing access to grandchildren), emotional blackmail, damage to, or removal of property and possessions, removal of decision-making powers, or preventing access to services.
  • Sexual Abuse: unwanted sexual behaviour including rape, indecent assault, sexual harassment or inappropriate touching.
  • Financial Abuse: the illegal or improper use of an older person's finances or property. It may include stealing, misappropriating money, forcing changes to a will or other legal documents, denying access to personal funds, forging signatures or misusing Power of Attorney.
  • Neglect: the failure of a carer to provide the necessities of life to a person for whom they are caring. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional neglect is when an older person is abandoned or not provided with adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical or dental care, or where their spiritual needs are not met. It also includes improper use of medication, poor hygiene or personal care, or the refusal to allow other people to provide adequate care. Unintentional neglect occurs when a carer does not have the skills or knowledge to care for a dependent person. They may not be aware of the types of support available, or may be ill and unable to meet the person’s needs.
  • Social Abuse: preventing a person from having contact with friends or family, or access to social activities. It includes intrusion, isolation, and preventing independence using threats, manipulation, and control.