People living with dementia remain vulnerable

With 15 June 2021 being World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Dementia Australia is calling all Australians to make themselves aware of the different forms elder abuse can take and to be alert to vulnerable Australians, including those living with dementia.

“People living with dementia are at increased risk of elder abuse because they are a vulnerable population group,” says Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe AM adding that elder abuse is a serious issue.

“With the prevalence of dementia rising exponentially, the risk of being impacted by elder abuse is an increasing concern.”

It’s important to remember that elder abuse can take on different forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, social and financial abuse as well as neglect, and as Ms McCabe adds, the community need to take these issues seriously as “older people living with dementia, as with others who are abuse, will not necessarily tell people what is happening and for some, cognitive decline can impair their ability to not only raise the issue but also to recall the details of what happened”.

“On occasions when issues or complaints are raised by a person living with dementia, they are not taken seriously because of their dementia,” says Ms McCabe.

“There is an obligation for all levels of government, the disability, health and aged care sectors and their workforce to ensure that people living with dementia are treated with the same dignity, respect and rights as everyone else, and are protected against all forms of abuse.

“It is critical that effective safeguards are in place, across all states and territories, to protect people living with dementia from elder abuse,” she adds.

Ms McCabe says that Dementia Australia are “calling on Australians to understand the warning signs and to look out for their family member, friend, neighbour, client” or customer, and “know who to call for help”.

If you know or suspect someone may be a victim of elder abuse, please contact the national Elder Abuse Phone Line on 1800 353 374 to be connected with the relevant service in your state or territory, visit Compass for information online or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

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