Elder abuse is something our eyes should be open to

IT IS NOT OK: Are your eyes closed when it comes to elder abuse?

IT IS NOT OK: Are your eyes closed when it comes to elder abuse?

"If I don't change my will I can't see the grandkids again."

"I've got no idea what I've done wrong."

"He makes me a bit afraid."

"I gave him my card - he's my son. Then I got a call from my bank manager."

So what, you ask? They're "red flag phrases" that can often indicate an older person is experiencing elder abuse. And they are highlighted in a new campaign launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission on October 1, the International Day of Older Persons.

A hard-hitting video reveals that many of us have our eyes closed to elder abuse. Its contents should be a wake up call to us all.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies says it is likely that between 2 per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year. That was pre-Covid. Now the Human Rights Commission is concerned the pandemic has heightened the risk.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson describes elder abuse as "a human rights scourge" and says social isolation and financial pressures on adult children as a result of the pandemic have created the "perfect storm".

"We all need to know the signs of elder abuse and understand that it can happen to any older person, regardless of their background or lifestyle," she said. "I hope this campaign helps more people to recognise the 'red flags' and know that they can do something about it."

Elder abuse can be financial (the most prevalent form of abuse), physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or neglect. It often takes place behind closed doors at home and, tragically, it is usually perpetrated by a family member or close contact of the older person.

The victim is often either too afraid or too embarrassed to seek help. So it is up to us all to be aware... to recognise those red flag words, those changes in behaviour, and offer assistance.

If you are experiencing abuse, or witness or suspect someone is a victim, just pick up the phone and call the National Elder Abuse phone line - 1800-353-374: it's free and confidential.

And please, take the time to watch the video at www.humanrights.gov.au Just a few minutes of your time could make a lifetime of difference.

  • Cheryl Field is editor of The Senior, Australia's leading newspaper for over-55s. Read it online: thesenior.com.au

For me it's a no-brainer, but at least my opinion is now backed by research: Noise can make or break a dining experience.

A lab study at Flinders University that replicated common noise levels in restaurants showed high noise levels can play a major part in a dining experience - along with the quality of the food and service. Even "normal" background noise levels in restaurants can be unpleasant to diners.

The study considered factors such as age, gender and sensitivity to background noise. And guess what? Noise-sensitive people, as well as older people and females (yes, me), reported lower enjoyment of food when there is elevated background noise.

Just like quiet train carriages, let's turn down the volume so I can have calm with my canapes, not castanets. I like to hear what my dining buddies are saying; not go home hoarse from screaming across the table. Why stop with restaurants. How about the clothes stores that literally rock? I don't want a racket with my jacket! And the "on hold" music that literally blows your mind. Or the show-off car owners whose woofers and tweeters are bigger than their brains?

What ticks you off? Let me know: cfield@thesenior.com.au

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