On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Home at Last, a specialist housing support service for older people has revealed recent data showing a sharp spike in the number of clients reporting elder abuse over the last year. Since January 2018, 63 older people have reported abuse. This number has more than doubled since the same time last year.
Fiona York, Executive Officer of Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG), who run the Home at Last Service, is concerned that housing pressures are adding to the tensions in families and households and this may be attributing to the increase in abuse cases.
“Older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness may be staying with family and friends in less than ideal temporary arrangements, adding to tensions and potentially fuelling abusive family situations,” explained Fiona York.
“People experiencing elder abuse need affordable housing options, to give them a pathway out of abusive situations and into safety. Unfortunately, safe and affordable housing for older people is increasingly rare, and elder abuse is contributing to homelessness for older people,” she continued.
Despite the rise in cases of elder abuse, the service is also concerned that stigma around and housing problems and a reluctance to speak badly about family members means there are many more older people out there who aren’t presenting to services for help.
Kim (not her real name) a member of a HAAG working group stated:
“[Older People] would rather suffer and be part of the family. They will cry to a friend but then will say ‘don’t tell anyone’…we need to encourage people to talk about these things. If we did, there would be a different result”.
Fiona hopes that the spike in cases of abuse can be attributed to awareness-raising initiatives such as today’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. However, there is little known about the true prevalence of elder abuse in the community.
The Home at Last service answers over one thousand calls a year from older people in housing stress and assists low-income people over 50 to find long-term, affordable housing. If an older person reports elder abuse or domestic violence Home at Last can work closely with Seniors Rights Victoria.
“Seniors Rights Victoria does a wonderful job of supporting clients through the legal and emotional elements of elder abuse. Home at Last can help the older person move to somewhere safe and affordable, where they can stay long term” says Fiona York.
END - For more information contact Fiona York 0449 554 142 or firstname.lastname@example.org