An increase of elder abuse in the community could be a hidden impact of the COVID-19 emergency, Seniors Rights Victoria has warned.
Research shows up to 14 per cent of older people may experience elder abuse in the form of physical, emotional, financial, social or sexual abuse.
Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blakey said the stress caused by the unprecedented and drastic changes to life due to coronavirus could trigger an increase in elder abuse.
She said with large numbers of people losing their jobs and unable to pay their rent, it was likely more people would move to live with older parents or other relatives out of financial necessity.
"Depending on family relationships and arrangements this may work out, however, we deal with cases that have resulted in elder abuse," she said.
Elder abuse is any mistreatment of an older person by another person they have a relationship of trust with.
Elder abuse is a lack of respect and violates an older person's basic right to feel safe.Seniors Rights Victoria
Often that person is a family member or carer, but it could be a friend or neighbour who they depend on.
Ms Blakey said elder abuse could cause stress, anxiety and depression and lead to an increased risk of ill health, hospitalisation and early death.
"Elder abuse is a lack of respect and violates an older person's basic right to feel safe," she said.
Elder abuse may be in the form of physical, financial, social or sexual abuse - all ways for another person to take over or control the life or property of an older person.
Some forms of elder abuse are criminal acts, for example, acts involving theft or fraud.
Seniors Rights Victoria says others can look out for the signs of elder abuse.
The older person may seem fearful, worried, withdraw or anxious with certain people. Family of friends may be denied access to the person.
There may be unexplained injuries such as bruises or cuts, unpaid bills or unusual activity in bank accounts, changes to a Will, disappearance of possessions, poor hygiene or personal care and absence of needed health items like hearing aids or medications.
More than 20 per cent of the Victorian population is aged over 60 and that number is rapidly increasing.
By 2031, 31 per cent of Victorians living in rural and regional areas will be aged over 60.
The Seniors Rights Victoria Helpline 1300 368 821 operates from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and offers free support, legal advice, information and education.
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