Older Australians are being urged to make firm plans for their twilight years to avoid elder abuse.
Elder Abuse Awareness month kicks off in June and ACT Minister for Community Services, Joy Burch, said it was important to recognise the issue affecting older Australians.
A 2011 survey conducted by the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australia’s National University, which canvassed more than 2,000 Canberra residents over the age of 60 years, found just more than 6% of respondents had experienced some form of elder abuse.
The most common form of abuse was psychological, followed by social, financial abuse. Fewer than 1% reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse or neglect.
Ms Burch said the ACT had one of the fastest growing populations in Australia of people aged 60 years and over, with numbers expected to increase from around 16% of the population in 2010 to almost 20% by 2020.
“So, it is important that we continue to foster a culture of respect for the elderly in our community,'' she said.
The ACT Elder Abuse Prevention Program identified planning for the future as one of the most important things older people could do as it prevented other people from being able to take control over their lives.
Planning meant ensuring legal and financial matters were in order, including an up-to-date Will and establishing an enduring power of attorney. Deciding on a preference and letting others know the decision was also important, as was thinking very carefully and seeking independent advice before signing any documents or providing others with money.
Ms Burch said the severity of elder abuse made it even more important for older Australians to report it to the relevant authorities.
“To help facilitate the reporting of elder abuse, the ACT government last year launched the ACT Older Persons Abuse Prevention, Referral and Information Line,” she said.
“It provides a confidential and single point of contact for callers who want to discuss elder abuse issues and seek advice and referral on options.'”