I read a comment recently to the effect that there are no records to show that elder abuse is evident in the euthanasia death statistics. This kind of comment shows an ignorance of the phenomenon of Elder Abuse and the insidious behaviour of those who seek so to abuse.
Two recent articles, one from Australia, the other from New Zealand highlight the problem. We must remember that elders who are abused are really a subset of those who are considered vulnerable people in our society.
From The Nelson Leader (NZ)
Abuse of elderly a growing concern
People are vigilant about child abuse but Age Concern Nelson says elder abuse is an equally big problem.
The Richmond-based organisation is holding a fashion show and afternoon tea on June 12 for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with clothing by Fashion Central on display.
Nelson police community section sergeant, Mal Drummond, said the police endorsed Age Concern's work with victims of elder abuse.
"As long as people are supportive of their family members and aware of what's occurring financially and in their lives, it tends to reduce the risk of those people being targeted."
Age Concern Nelson manager, Sue Tilby, said she and her colleagues were seeing more financial and psychological abuse than physical abuse this year, but this type of abuse could have a devastating effect.
Cases from this year have included three separate instances of serious self-neglect, and many examples of misuse of money or property.
Elder abuse and neglect prevention advisor Jess Breeze said one of the reasons elder abuse stayed "hidden" was because 70 to 80 per cent of elder abuse and neglect in New Zealand occurred at the hands of family members.
"Many older people feel shamed their own flesh and blood is treating them so badly so they won't talk about it."
Age Concern had also seen a number of cases around Nelson and Richmond where elderly people were befriended by dishonest people who intended to gain their trust and then "fleece them".
A recent case involved bogus tree-trimmers who approached people living alone, significantly overcharging their vulnerable customers for a "shoddy" service as highlighted by the police.
"We want to reiterate the importance of not opening your door to somebody you don't know because people are scamming older people," Jess said. "Even in the supermarket carpark, [a dishonest person may] see the elderly person by themselves and come over [saying], ‘Hi, how are you? Are you on your own? Do you want some help? Shall I come over later?"
- © Fairfax NZ News
From The Australian
Elderly woman suffered immeasurably after neglect by daughter
AUTHORITIES are being urged to toughen laws that allow carers who neglect the elderly to go unpunished, following the death of an 88-year-old woman who was treated "unforgivably" by her daughter.
In a scathing ruling, Queensland Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements has also called on Centrelink to tighten its regulation of carers' welfare payments to stop another "vulnerable elderly person" suffering such an "appalling decline in wellbeing" in the future.
Cynthia Thoresen was left bed-ridden, covered in faeces, starving and screaming in pain with an undiagnosed broken leg by her daughter for weeks before her death in January 2009.
In written findings, Ms Clements said Marguerite Thoresen - paid by Centrelink since 2001 to be her mother's carer - failed to call for medical help until at least three weeks after her mother suffered a fall at home.
When ambulance officers were finally summoned to Cynthia Thoresen's aid, they were shocked by what they saw. The elderly woman was yelling in agony, covered in urine, faeces and chocolate ice cream and her right leg was so badly fractured it was 10cm shorter than her left.
Thoresen, who had no teeth or dentures, had been fed only ice cream for at least three weeks and was diagnosed as being moderately to severely malnourished when she arrived at the hospital.
Surgeons discovered her leg fracture had occurred so long ago that it was impossible to fix.
Ms Clements said that, despite the best efforts of medical staff at Brisbane's Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Thoresen died of a lung blockage as a result of the broken leg.
The coroner quoted from an expert medical report by the hospital's director of thoracic medicine, Stephen Morrison. "When Cynthia Thoresen was brought to RBWH, her state of filth, faecal contamination and the existence of numerous pressure sores suggested a severe degree of neglect by family members, particularly by her daughter Marguerite Thoresen, who is self-described as the patient's 'carer'," the report stated.
Dr Morrison said he considered the three-week delay between the woman's fall and her hospital arrival "neglectful to the point of cruelty", as was her family's failure to take her to a general practitioner for a check-up for years before her death.
But Ms Clements said despite this there was "insufficient evidence" under current Queensland law to successfully prosecute Marguerite Thoresen, who claimed she did not realise her mother's fall was serious.
The coroner pointed to a suggestion from the investigating police officer, who recommended the state's law be reviewed to "create a new offence more akin to the offences relating to cruelty to children". Ms Clements referred the matter to Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who yesterday told The Australian he was examining the findings.