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Elder abuse: Identifying and responding

CPD Hours



Aged care
Working with vulnerable people
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Elder abuse is often defined as: ‘…an intentional single or repeated act, or a lack of appropriate action, occurring within a relationship where trust is expected or implied, that causes or creates a risk of harm or distress for an older person’ (WHO 2008).

It is far more common that what has often been acknowledged and most estimates place the rate of elder abuse in Australia at approximately 2-10% of older Australians annually.

Elder abuse is contributed to by social and cultural factors that devalue older people. As it is carried out in a relationship of trust, elder abuse usually involves family members, friends, or caregivers. It may be the continuation of a long-standing pattern of abuse within a family.

Nurses working in almost every professional field will be in a position to assess for elder abuse, particularly those working in emergency departments, the community, aged care facilities, and general hospital wards.

It can be difficult to know what to look for and how to respond when elder abuse is suspected.

This module provides training on what elder abuse is, the main forms it manifests in, the risk factors for elder abuse, its identification, and the initial response expected from nurses and assistants in nursing who identify or suspect elder abuse.

It discusses the principles that underpin prevention and response strategies. It identifies some of the reasons the rate of elder abuse is likely to increase and some of the initiatives being taken to counter the prevalence.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Explain the principles that underpin the strategies to prevent and respond to elder abuse
  • Describe the common forms of elder abuse
  • Identify risk factors for elder abuse
  • Explain how to respond to identified or suspected elder abuse

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