A greater focus on elder abuse is bringing the issue out of the dark, a forum has heard.
A Community Forum for Seniors and Sector Workers on June 4 at The Westport Club helped raise awareness about the often hidden and under-reported problem.
Protecting your rights as you age was the topic of Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson’s forum address.
She said elder abuse was a human rights issue.
Dr Patterson said women were more often victims, rather than men, and perpetrators were more likely to be close family members.
“You can’t think it [elder abuse] won’t happen to you,” Dr Patterson told the forum attendees.
“Some of you here will have friends who this has happened to.”
The World Health Organisation defines elder abuse as a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Elder abuse can be financial, physical, psychological, emotional or sexual.
Dr Patterson encouraged people to learn more about elder abuse.
“The more you learn and understand about it, the more you can be aware of the signs where you may be in danger or a neighbour may be,” she said.
Dr Patterson said older people were also more at risk of scams.
About 140 people attended the seniors and community session at the forum.
Another session targeted industry staff, professionals and interested seniors and community members.
The Seniors Rights Service event was staged in collaboration with Port Macquarie Hastings Elder Abuse Prevention Network in the lead-up to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.