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Self-advocacy toolkit

What you need to know for better aged care

Self-advocacy or speaking up means having the right information to get the care and support you need. Explore the topics below to start.

Home Self-advocacy toolkit Protecting yourself from harm Identifying abuse

Identifying abuse

The World Health Organization defines the abuse of older people – or elder abuse – as ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.’

There are five main forms

  • financial
  • psychological (including social isolation)
  • neglect
  • physical
  • sexual.

Different forms of abuse can co-exist. For example, coercing a person to sign a document is both financial and psychological abuse.

Signs that an older person may be in an abusive situation include

  • Seems depressed, confused, or withdrawn
  • Isolated from friends and family
  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars
  • Appears dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated, or not receiving needed care for medical problems
  • Has bed sores or other preventable conditions
  • Recent changes in banking or spending patterns.

Elder Abuse. Know the signs

Watch the Australian Human Rights Commission video about the different types of abuse of older people and the signs. Click on the ‘CC’ button to turn on captions and the ‘Youtube’ icon for full screen.

Documents and external links

Learn more about identifying abuse. These documents and websites offer help, strategies, and practical information. Brief descriptions are provided for each document or link.

Defining elder abuse

The abuse of older people can be complex. Read this important Compass resource to help understand it further.

Recognising elder abuse

Read this Compass resource which goes into the major factors that older people who experience abuse are likely to share.

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