Living in fear

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram For many elderly Greek Australians financial and emotional abuse from family members or trusted carers is a frightening reality. A new study by Monash University and State Trustees has shown older Greek Australians believe this ‘silent crime’ towards the elderly is common within the community. The study, Diversity and financial elder abuse in Victoria, used data from 76 survey respondents, aged between 65 and 100 years, 62 of which were from non-English speaking backgrounds, including Greek, Italian and Vietnamese. Nineteen of the participants were elderly Greek Australians. Monash University’s Associate Professor Jo Wainer told Neos Kosmos that the Greeks identified and recognised elder abuse (which is abuse from a family member or trusted person) more than any other group surveyed. They had many tales of elder abuse and financial mismanagement and recognised that this is mostly from within families. “There are lots of good kids but there are others who abuse a lot too,” one participant responded. The Greek understanding of ‘elder abuse’ included when children push, manipulate, bully and scare their elderly parents, and can mean put downs, shouting, verbal insults, beatings and being pushed around. One man said he was treated worse than an animal. “I wish I was a dog, they live better than us,” he said. Some of the horror stories brought up included a cousin who lives with her granddaughter and only receives $20 a week, neglect from children who take over, and children taking control of the money and only giving their parent a cold plate of food to eat. One participant told the story of a widow whose children bullied her into selling her units and left her living on the street. “Her kids fell upon her and manipulated her,” the respondent said. A woman also told of a man she knew who was tricked and lied to. His children had said they would put him in a home for two weeks so they could go on holidays, however the man remained there for 14 years until he died. No one visited him and the children sold all his houses and property. Most of the Greeks surveyed were women and widowers that feel vulnerable to potential abuse, Prof Wainer said, adding that Greeks were most likely of all groups to rely on their children for banking, paying bills and paperwork.Greeks were also the most likely of all the groups to actively minimise their risk and think about how to protect themselves. “Almost all of them have a will, the majority have appointed enduring power of attorney, which is a strategy to reduce risk. They appoint their children, which can be protective but also an instrument of abuse,” Professor Wainer said. The two Greek discussion groups appeared to be living hand to mouth and were concerned about daily survival, with one saying “if they cut the pension then we are doomed, we all live in fear”. Some survival strategies they outlined included buying food at the end of market day, cooking one pot of lentils or beans and making it last five days, paying bills on terms, wearing old shoes and clothes, and buying the cheapest cuts of meat or food at its expiry date. CEO of Fronditha Care, Penni Michael said Fronditha has encountered such cases of elderly financial abuse with two cases in the past eight months. “These situations are very difficult, the elderly person is very reluctant to talk about what is happening, they know it is not right but at the same time they want to be able to look after their child,” Ms Michael told Neos Kosmos.“They also find themselves in the middle of sibling arguments, where one child is encouraging the mother or father to stop giving money to their adult child. They often feel very vulnerable emotionally, especially when they are threatened”. “It’s really important to advocate for these people who are vulnerable and give them support,” Ms Michael added. Yarra City Council invites seniors to an open discussion this Tuesday, April 5, to discuss thoughts and ideas on the rights of older people and the issue of elder abuse. The event will be held at Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Rd, from 10am until 2pm, with lunch provided. Please RSVP by Monday April 4 to Yarra Council on 9205 5555 or at [email protected] For information and support relating to elder abuse for older Victorians, their friends and family members, please call Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821. If you know someone who has been or is a victim of elderly abuse, or want to share your story with Neos Kosmos, please email [email protected]last_img

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