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Kate Hawkesby: We need to be more considerate of the elderly

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jul 2019, 10:27AM
We should treat our older generations better, writes Kate Hawkesby. (Photo / Getty)

Kate Hawkesby: We need to be more considerate of the elderly

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jul 2019, 10:27AM

I feel sad for our elderly at the moment.

It's tough enough getting old, but look at all they have to contend with. This week's news is they're the target of scammers, last week it was elder abuse.

They've got prices going up for petrol and food, housing that's harder to get into, technology moving at a cracking pace.

Even the upgrade to the SuperGold Card will mean digital literacy training is needed for many. Yes, plenty of elderly are capable,technically proficient savvy citizens, but many also are not. Some are without family, or support, or financial stability, and that must be enormously worrying for them.

Scammers are more sophisticated these days and they prey on older people's vulnerabilities. They also know how to get hold of them – landlines.

This latest one by fraudsters claiming to be from Spark is a classic example. Victims are hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, a significant number of people have fallen for it, according to police.

But the financial abuse is not just from strangers.

Disturbing figures last month from Age Concern show that in one region alone there had been more than 90 cases of elder abuse in the past year. And that number's apparently "on a par with other regions around the country on a per-capita basis". That's awful. But worse, it's often those closest to them ripping them off.

"Nationally, family members are responsible for more than three-quarters of all alleged cases of abuse," one elder abuse response adviser said.

And it's more than Granny getting left in a cold flat without hot tea or a nice heater, it's much more insidious than that. It's bullying, threats, and pressure.

It's fleecing the bank account. It's dictating terms to older people about where and how they should live - taking control of their finances and assets. All under the guise of 'concern'.

Family members rely on the fact a relative is less likely to go to police. But what's really sad here is that older people have very little ability to get back what's taken from them, they have limited ability to report, and they are often isolated.

Many times, they may prefer to leave it unsaid or unreported because they're scared of being left completely alone.

So how can we do better by our older generation? Age Concern says connection is the best prevention.

Wouldn't it be nice if culturally we could be more like Eastern civilisations who care for their elderly with respect, and show dignity. It behoves us to show more gratitude to those who've gone before us - and to try to maintain the kind of society our kids will get to grow old in. 

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