Definition: ‘A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person’. This definition was established by Action on Elder Abuse (UK) in 1993 and adopted by the World Health Organisation.
Such abuse has, at its heart, an expectation of trust between two or more people. This does not apply to strangers or other relationships where there is no expectation of trust. Sometimes elder abuse within the family can take place. It may not be intentional and could arise because a person does not fully understand a situation or finds difficulty in managing stressful problems. They might also lack the skills required and need the support of external agencies to help them. Moreover, elder abuse may occur as a result of non-acceptance of problems which need to be addressed and this can take many forms, for example denying access to the right treatment at the right time.
In many countries, laws exist such as Mental Capacity Act (UK) which presume that every adult has the right to make their own decisions and have the capacity to do so. If, for any reason, it is felt that a person is not being allowed this right, this concern can be raised with family members or contact can be made with the national authority responsible for social welfare who will be able to provide helpful advice and support.
This site contains the contact details for European and International Parkinson’s organisations should more information be required.