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A day to recognise the contribution of our elders

As part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June 2012), the Office of the Adult Guardian is urging Queenslanders to increase their awareness about elder abuse, and recognise the value that older people bring to the life of our community.

Lindsay Irons, acting Adult Guardian for Queensland, said elder abuse has the potential to affect all of us, and it is up to all Queenslanders to act together and take a stand against the abuse and neglect of our older people.

“Older Queenslanders continue to make great contributions to this State, and they should also consider what arrangements they can put in place for their own future decision making,” Mr Irons said.

“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportunity to think about our loved ones, our friends and neighbours – older people who might be vulnerable to abuse or neglect.

“It is also an opportunity for us to think about who we would like to make personal, healthcare and financial decisions for us, in the event that we lose the capacity to make these decisions for ourselves.

“The Adult Guardian is a statutory appointee, whose role is to protect people who don’t have the capacity to make their own decisions or advance their rights.

“This can include elderly people who have an impairment such as dementia.”

Mr Irons said each year the Office of the Adult Guardian receives hundreds of allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or vulnerability of people with impaired capacity.

“A significant number of the investigations we conduct relate to the alleged abuse of elderly people,” he said.

“Elder abuse knows no geographic or socio-economic boundaries, so it is important for people to protect their own interests.

“It is important for everybody to choose a good decision maker who will prioritise their best interests when making important life decisions.

“There are tools out there to help us do so – such as Enduring Powers of Attorney.

“The person you choose may not necessarily be an obvious choice – you need to think about who will be able to make good decisions on your behalf by putting themselves in your shoes.”

Mr Irons said elder abuse can come in many forms including emotional, financial and physical mistreatment, and is not always obvious or easily identified as ‘abuse’.

“For example, older people may find themselves being prevented from seeing certain friends or family members; they may have their money withheld or their assets taken or they may not be provided with necessary medical care,” he said.

“While we encourage people to put measures in place to manage their future, we still need to look out for those who may already be in a situation where they are not receiving the care and support they need.”

Mr Irons said abuse is a growing concern as our population ages, and we should reflect on what type of community we want for ourselves and our loved ones – both now and into the future.

“We should be proud of taking action to ensure care for older Queenslanders with impaired capacity – we need to act and make decisions to reflect the valuable contributions of older people in our community,” he said.

For more information about services provided by the Office of the Adult Guardian please visit www.justice.qld.gov.au.

If you are concerned for the wellbeing of an elderly person please contact the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit on 1300 651 195.

If you think that an older person whom you know has impaired decision-making capacity, and is at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, you can contact the Office of the Adult Guardian on 3234 0870 or email adult.guardian@justice.qld.gov.au.

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Last reviewed
15 June 2012
Last updated
5 November 2015

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