Authorities estimate that something like 5% of Australians over the age of 65 will be abused at some time. But authorities also admit that the prevalence could indeed be double that figure given that one of the characteristics of this kind of crime is significant under reporting.
The ABC's The World Today ran a story yesterday (20th Feb 2012) describing the plight of an elderly Queensland farmer, Roger Hack who was systematically defrauded of many millions of dollars by a person who was supposed to be caring for him. His son, Richard estimated the level of the rorting to be in excess of $15M.
I've heard those who support the idea of euthanasia & assisted suicide poo-pooing the idea that legalising their agenda would provide a legal cover for the ultimate in Elder Abuse - the abuse of elderly people by coercion and psychological manipulation to the point where they either request death or where the perpetrator convinces a doctor that the person wanted to die.
They either live in a utopian dream world where no wrong is ever committed or they simply don't have an answer to the reality that pulls the rug out from beneath their agenda.
Examples of such abuse abound; like this one published yesterday on the FORBES website by Carolyn Rosenblatt.
Polly is 97 and has only one daughter, Vicky. Vicky moved in with her mother to become Polly's caregiver about a year ago. Recently, Vicky apparently decided that her mother had lived long enough, and she began withholding food from Polly.
Vicky has had a troubled life, with drugs and alcohol abuse. She doesn't have much income. Her mother's home and assets are worth over $500,000.
Polly's friend and neighbor noticed Polly's weight loss. She became suspicious of what was going on and called Adult Protective Services. APS received complaints from family as well. APS got involved in the case, and forced Vicky to put her mom in a care facility. Vicky found the cheapest home she could, and delivered her mother there. Vicky is mom's Power of Attorney and she is also the Agent on mom's healthcare directive. In other words, she has legal control.
Polly was thin, confused and very frail. Vicky called Hospice, which began to provide care. In her neglected condition, Polly qualified as a person eligible for hospice with six months or less to live.
Vicky brought Polly to the care home without bringing any clothing for her. She told the care facility owner that her mother was dying and "didn't need any clothes". She forbade them to give her mom food. "Nothing but water" she said. She told them not to let Polly get out of bed. "She's too weak", Vicky told them. She told them not to let any other relatives talk to the doctor about Polly.
Vicky was slowly trying to kill her mother. (See the full article HERE)
As a society we need to respond to the problem of Elder Abuse and most if not all states are grappling with what can be done.
We cannot become a society whose public policy on such matters is incongruous. We cannot say, on the one hand, that we need to protect the elderly from abuse while, at the same time, allowing euthanasia & assisted suicide which will deliver the precisely opposite outcome.