WITH isolation a risk factor for elder abuse, concerns have been raised about the south-west's older community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elder Abuse Prevention Project Worker for South West Victoria, Becky Nevin Berger, said social distancing measures and its impacts could make older people more vulnerable to elder abuse.
"Elder abuse is a form of family violence and therefore has these same associated risks," she said.
"In addition, the far reaching impacts of the social distancing measures of people's livelihoods and housing also increase these risks. It is known that older people often provide accommodation to younger family members and others when they experience financial and housing distress. The pressure that can sometimes arise in these situations can be precursors to elder abuse.
"In addition we know that financial abuse is one of the most commonly reported forms of elder abuse, often in association with emotional and psychological abuse, and with increased financial hardship there are concerns that we'd see an increase in this type of elder abuse."
She said while the community was coping with social distancing, for some older people the experience could be detrimental to their health and well being.
"Everyone is suffering the affects of social distancing...older people are bearing it in a particular way because it's often older people, a good enough proportion of them, who don't use digital technology or are not incredibly confident with it and it just exposes them to the ill effects of loss of connection," she said.
Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blakey said significant economic and emotional pressures on families who did not have funds to pay for their rent, mortgages or regular bills could heighten the risk of elder financial abuse of older people and the broader community. She said financial abuse was the illegal or improper use of a person's property, finances and other assets without their informed consent or where consent is obtained by fraud or manipulation.
"On experience, this usually occurs between an older person and a family member but can also occur with carers or friends," she said.
"The older person may not have the capacity or be empowered to make a decision which protects their assets or financial security. In many cases older people can be influenced by their family, friends and carers in negotiations or actions that are detrimental to the older person's immediate or long-term interest without any independent oversight."
Examples of financial elder abuse include a family member taking a loan with a promise of repayment but not paying the money back, taking money or using an older person's banking and credit card without consent and pressuring an older person to make changes to a will or other legal documents.
If you have concerns about elder abuse, Seniors Rights Victoria runs a confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.
If someone is in danger call triple-0.