Shining the light on elder abuse

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Purple is the official colour for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), which is commemorated on 15 June every year. On this day, individuals and organisations worldwide seek to prevent elder abuse by highlighting the importance of the rights of older people.

Elder abuse is any act that causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, often a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. Rates of elder abuse are under reported, but the Australian Institute of Family Studies estimates up to 14 per cent of older people in Australia are affected.

Warning signs may include an older person seeming fearful, anxious or isolated, injuries, or an absence of personal care. Unexplained changes to legal documents or finances are also possible signs. Most elder abuse occurs behind closed doors, so it is important to be aware of the signs, listen and offer help.

Older people can reduce the risk of elder abuse by making sure their financial, medical, legal and other affairs are in order. They must also be empowered to recognise the signs of elder abuse and encouraged to seek help.

If you are experiencing elder abuse, or concerned about an older person, you can get help by calling Seniors Rights Service in your state.

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