My goal is to provide information about the growing health issue of elder abuse, not just in the United States and Canada but around the globe. It is important for all of us to understand that this is a global concern.
Australia is facing major concerns in regards to the treatment of the elderly. Elder abuse has increased significantly in the continent (even though many consider Australia a country). It is estimated that 6% of its population is elderly. It is believed that there are approximately 100,000 unreported cases of elder abuse throughout Australia per year. Ian Yates from COTA (Council on the Aging) in Australia is working to help strengthen laws against elder abuse.
There are no mandatory reporting requirements in any State or Territory throughout Australia for elder abuse that is occurring in the community setting. Experts feel that Australia is 30 years behind in research and policy development. There are no special statutes to cover neglect, mistreatment, or psychological abuse in any State or Territory. It is shocking to discover that elder abuse is not taught in the law school curriculum. Elder abuse is not a specialty area of law with most elder lawyers dealing with wills and estate matters.
Ian Yates in an interview said that “probably the most common is financial, because there’s a strong incentive for people to undertake financial abuse; it’s theft for their own purposes. But, obviously that’s accompanied by emotional abuse, psychological abuse and, unfortunately, physical abuse.”
By 2025, it is estimated that elder abuse will be costing the health system over $350 million dollars per year. In residential settings, 75% of the residents in residential care facilities do not receive regular visits by relatives, are visited infrequently or not at all. This explains why these residents are not well represented in complaints.
Elder abuse cases are extremely difficult to prosecute in court due to lack of specific elder abuse laws.
There seems to be a recurring theme of federal governments acquiescing to state and local governments to address elder abuse concerns. It is fortunate for the elderly that there are organizations whose mission is to address elder abuse in the United States, Canada and Australia.
As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.
Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.