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Community

17 June, 2021

Happy, healthy and safe

ITS sad but true, one of the unfortunate outcomes of this COVID pandemic is the rise in instances of elder abuse.

By Peter McCullagh

Elder abuse can take many forms, physical, psychological or even financial mistreatment take a toll on our most vulnerable members of our society.

Social isolation, financial stresses, depression as well as a lack of suitable support has contributed to a rise in the instances of elder abuse in Queensland.

Minnie Aggaiwal, Clinical Nurse Coordinator with Warrina Aged Car in Innisfail sees elder abuse as potentially the most important issue facing older Australians today.

“We should never tolerate elder abuse, it’s important that we treat our parents, grandparents and elders with the same loving respect that we would want to be treated with,” Ms Aggaiwalm said.

“We want all our residents be to healthy, happy and most of all safe.”

This week we celebrated the United Nations proclaimed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Queensland government launched a campaign focussing on building the community’s awareness and understanding of elder abuse and the forms it takes.

Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford is a passionate advocate for support for the elderly.

“Older people have the right to be safe and free from abuse, and to live with respect and dignity without fear of abuse, especially from family members or any trusted people in their lives.

“It’s up to all of us to act together to show that elder abuse has no place in Queensland communities.”

Ms Aggaiwal feels that elder abuse is a widespread issue here in the north. Many times, the abuse could be unintentional, but just as damaging as wilful abuse.

Since commencing with Warrina Aged Care six years ago, Ms Aggaiwal has been called upon many times to work with new residents suspected of suffering from elder abuse.

“They come to our care, showing many of the signs of abuse, they are depressed, withdrawn and some actually flinch when we reach out to assist them.

“It takes time, patience and a lot of care and love to win back their trust, to get them to open up and trust people around them.

Looking for and recognising the tell-tale signs of elder abuse is an important step in protecting our loved ones. The staff at Warrina Aged Care undertake mandatory training and updating each year to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their residents is protected.

“We are privileged to care for them and work with a home environment,” Ms Aggaiwal said, “this is not our workplace, we are in their home, where they should be, and also feel safe.”

“Personally, I love my job. I could not think of a better job to have. To be part of the lives of these beautiful people is indeed very special. We all feel that way.”

Some of the key signs that we should look for and encourage others to look for include:

● Fear of one or many persons

● Irritability or being easily upset

● Worry or anxiety for no obvious reason

● Depression, anxiety or withdrawal

● Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits

● Rigid posture and avoidance of contact

● Avoidance of eye contact or continuous darting of eyes

● Contradictory statements unrelated to mental confusion

● Reluctance to talk openly.

For more information about elder abuse prevention and support services, visit www.qld.gov.au/stopelderabuse


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