What about elder abuse?

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The national newspaper, The Australian, ran an article this week calling for a national hotline to be set up to deal with the problem of Elder Abuse. Council of the Aging chief executive, Ian Yates, made the call for a national phone line adding that the problem of Elder Abuse was, “likely to continue with the aging population.”

This comes at a time when Queensland authorities have laid charges in five separate incidences of neglect of elderly women by carers, the article reported.

“One of the problems is that when people suspect elder abuse, they don’t know who to call,” said Mr Yates. “What we need is a national 1-800 number.”

The report also called of mandatory reporting of suspected elder abuse that would compel carers and health professionals to report their suspicions.

No doubt such a move would highlight the issue in the community similar to the creation of child abuse hotlines and mandatory reporting for child abuse some years ago. However, it may do little to remedy the problems that might occur where a relative is caring for an elderly family member in a private home.

Elder Abuse, particularly in a home environment or private setting may be very difficult to detect. The abused may have little contact with people outside that setting and may feel that the abuse meeted out is somehow their own fault. It is not difficult to imagine a situation where, after serial abuse over an extended period, that a frail aged person, for example, might easily be coaxed into asking to be euthanased.

This is real – it’s not theory – it does happen. Euthanasia advocates seem to hold a rather utopian view, something akin to the ‘level playing field’ paradigm. This is simply nonsense. There are clearly people who will (and do) take advantage of the vulnerable; euthanasia would only increase the opportunity.

Paul Russell is Director and founder of the national network HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide. Paul has been involved in campaigning and lobbying on family and pro-life policy for many years in South Australia and nationally. This article has been cross-posted from the Hope website.

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