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July 25, 2015

More Seniors Reporting Cases of Abuse: Welfare Centres (SINGAPORE)

More seniors are reporting cases of abuse, according to welfare centres who deal specifically with family violence. They said physical violence remains the most common form of abuse, but more elderly people are also falling prey to financial abuse, with their family trying to get them to surrender their savings.
On Monday (Jul 20), a Facebook user "ApohTecky Numero" had posted a video online that showed an elderly woman being hit by a younger lady at Block 48 Lower Delta Road. Police later confirmed that a report had been lodged. "Preliminary investigations revealed that a 25-year-old female Singaporean had allegedly assaulted her 58-year-old mother on Jul 20," they stated. The 25-year-old is helping police with their investigations.
Ms Tan Ching Yee, 45, oversees TRANS SAFE Centre, a voluntary welfare organisation in Bedok and one of three family violence specialist centres in Singapore. She has seen many cases of elderly abuse in her 20-year career, but one which took place three to four years ago stood out.
"When we went to the home, we found that he was actually found lying on the trash bag, very thin, wearing diapers and totally grossly neglected. We had to send him to the hospital,” said Ms Tan.
Most cases of elderly abuse by family members are referred to the centres by healthcare institutions such as hospitals and polyclinics, and the courts.
TRANS SAFE Centre sees around 80 such cases annually, and around 40 cases have been reported this year. The most common form of abuse involves physical violence, followed by psychological abuse, neglect and financial abuse, such as getting the seniors to hand over their savings. Their impact over the long term can be devastating, leading to a sense of helplessness, isolation and depression.
With growing awareness of what constitutes abuse and of avenues to seek help, more seniors are reporting such incidents. TRANS SAFE Centre said that between 2010 and 2014, the figure rose from 7 to 17 per cent, among those aged 60 to 64.
Care Corner Project StART - another centre that deals with family violence - has also noticed this trend, and it said that this group is also vulnerable to financial abuse as they tend to be better-off.
The centre sees 80 cases of elderly abuse each year and half involve financial abuse. 
Said Ms Agnes Chia, group director for family and community services at Care Corner Project StART: “We do see their adult children coming in to coerce them to pass on even the deed of the HDB flat to them and coerce them to pass their savings to them. And tactics of abusing them physically would be employed at times to coerce them to surrender their lifelong savings.”
Social workers dealing with cases of elderly abuse said the introduction of the Vulnerable Adults Act by the end of the year would be timely. It would give them the powers to enter the homes of elderly people suspected of being abused.
Currently, family members may prevent them from getting access to these seniors.
"But we need to recognise that a law is only a law. It is after that, what happens? So, we can't assume that the Vulnerable Adults Act can resolve the problem overnight. Looking at the whole process of working towards getting family members to acknowledge that things can be better and things do not have to be resolved using violence. Ultimately, that is still the aim,” said Ms Tan.
Social workers said there is one key challenge that the public faces when it comes to reporting incidents of family violence - distinguishing between whether it is a family dispute or a case of abuse.
Still, they said that more are stepping up to alert them of such cases.

SOURCE:    ChannelNewsAsia

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