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Social isolation of the elderly

29 Jun 2016

14 April 2016

A new report exposes the true scale of chronic isolation and loneliness among older Victorians.

As Victoria’s population continues to age, the emotional health and financial wellbeing of our elderly community is being severely affected by growing isolation. According to a new report into senior isolation and loneliness from the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerrard Mansour, one in ten seniors is now experiencing chronic isolation and loneliness.

Launched today, at Parliament House by Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley MP, the report shines a light on the serious issues currently facing our elderly population – issues State Trustees and its clients face on a daily basis.

Research recently commissioned by State Trustees revealed that more than 50 per cent of Victorians were unable to identify key aspects of their grandparents’ lives, including occupations, religious background, maiden names, when they first arrived here and most surprisingly, whether they had previously fought in a war. Staggeringly, only 10 per cent of those surveyed could claim to be aware of their grandparents’ historical anecdotes and the items they hold most dear in life.

There appears to be a lack of engagement with our elderly by loved ones and family, which could be contributing to these levels of loneliness, and in turn to our elders’ vulnerability to abuse.

Our research found that people didn’t seem to know the basic facts about their parents and grandparents lives. The study also found that those who spent more time with their families – unsurprisingly – knew more about their elders. This personal connection is critical in helping to prevent isolation of the elderly.

As more evidence emerges of financial elder abuse, it is time for all Victorians to begin to engage more with our older people.

We believe that we are losing our connection with our elders – and with our roots and our families – by not spending that critical time with our elderly and loved ones.

State Trustees is calling on all Victorians to reach out to the older people closest to them and help address a problem that is becoming an epidemic.

Social isolation of the elderly is now more widespread in Victorian society than at any point in the past, and there is a link between loneliness and financial elder abuse, as perpetrators will often target isolated elderly people. Financial elder abuse occurs when someone takes advantage of a relationship with an elderly person to exploit them for financial gain.

The recent Royal Commission into Family Violence report revealed that family violence against older people tends to be under-reported, due to shame, fear of not being believed or financial reliance on the perpetrator.

Ageing is indeed everyone’s business and I encourage all Victorians to make time for their elderly family members and neighbours and reach out to those you think may be suffering from loneliness or lack of social stimulation.

State Trustees provides a broad range of legal and financial services to provide security and peace-of-mind in difficult times. We’re here to help.

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