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HomeminewsCall Out Against Elder Abuse: 15 June 2023

Call Out Against Elder Abuse: 15 June 2023

Vânia de la Fuente-Núñez

Ahead of Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June 2023), The Fred Hollows Foundation is calling for more community safeguards to protect older people with vision impairment from neglect and mistreatment.

Around one in six people aged 60 years or older have experienced some form of abuse over the past year, according to the World Health Organization.1

The rates of abuse of older people are even higher in institutions, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, where two in three staff report that they have committed abuse in the past year.2

Hidden Form of Abuse

The Foundation’s Senior Adviser for Healthy Ageing, Dr Vânia de la Fuente-Núñez, said elder abuse was one of the most hidden forms of abuse in society and older people with sight issues were most at risk of being harmed.

“People with vision impairment often rely on others for assistance with daily activities, making them reliant on caregivers and increasing their vulnerability to abuse,” Dr de la Fuente-Núñez said.

“They may experience neglect or mistreatment when their caregivers fail to provide appropriate care or accommodation. Vision impairment can also make it challenging for older adults to manage their finances and others may take advantage of this.”

A recent survey3 by The Foundation found that 85% of Australians aged 65 and older wore prescription glasses or contact lenses and 38% of people in this demographic have had cataracts.

Globally, 78% of people who are blind are aged 50 or older (33.6 million people).

Elder abuse can have severe physical, mental, economic and social consequences for older people, including physical injury, premature death, depression, cognitive decline, and economic loss.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on 15 June and unites the world in opposition to the violence that can be inflicted on older people

Protection Required

To better protect older people with vision impairment, Dr de la Fuente-Núñez said it was critical that caregivers and institutions provide accessible support services.

“These include assistive technology and adaptive devices to empower older adults with vision impairment to enhance their independence and safety,” she said.

“Implementing safeguards, training programs and policies that focus on preventing elder abuse are also crucial.

“It is only by shining a light on the unique challenges faced by older adults with vision impairment that we can work towards reducing the risk of elder abuse in this population group.

“Addressing violence against older populations is indispensable for advancing the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on 15 June and unites the world in opposition to the violence that can be inflicted on older people.

Elder abuse refers to a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, that causes harm or distress to an older person in a relationship where trust is expected. This kind of violence includes physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse as well as neglect and abandonment.

 

References

  1. Abuse of older people (who.int)
  2. Abuse of older people (who.int)
  3. The survey was commissioned by The Fred Hollows Foundation and conducted by YouGov in April 2023. It used a sample of 1,032 Australian Citizens age 18+, with a margin of error of 3%.