Elder abuse prevention

Did you know? There are simple yet effective ways to help prevent abuse. Learn how you or someone you know can protect their health and wellbeing, finances and future decisions and wishes.

Know Your Rights - A Guide to the Rights of Older South Australians (PDF 1MB) has been developed by Office for Ageing Well in partnership with Legal Services Commission to inform older people of their rights, the laws that safeguard and offer protection, and where to go for more information and support. This publication has useful information about critical life points, and where to go to for advice or support related to finances, health, accommodation and legal issues. Download the resource or contact Legal Services Commission for your free copy.

Protecting finances/property


  • lend your bank card or give your personal identification number (PIN) to anyone
  • feel pressured or made to feel guilty into doing something you are not in agreement with
  • sign any forms directly after significant changes in your health
  • sign any forms you are not sure about or have not read
  • lend money without a formal payback schedule…unless you are giving a gift
  • leave your decisions about financial matters up to others
  • leave valuables lying around
  • inform others you keep money at home.


  • keep regular contact with your bank, credit or financial institution, financial planner  or accountant
  • have bills automatically paid from your bank account such as your telephone or utilities bills
  • seek information about legal and financial matters, especially about future options
  • seek independent advice before signing any documents, co-signing loans, or signing over ownership of your home
  • read all legal documents carefully, including the fine print – seek advice if you don’t understand something
  • stop and wait if you are feeling pressured – get advice before you sign a document
  • put in writing your expectations that your property/materials which are borrowed are to be returned…unless it is a gift
  • keep your home secure; do not leave valuables lying around
  • complete a Will; Enduring Power of Attorney and an Advance Care Directive
  • update your documents yearly or as relationships or circumstances change
  • keep copies of these important documents in a safe place, which you can find easily.

Health and wellbeing

Did you know? You can plan ahead and make your wishes known for your future accommodation, healthcare, end of life and personal decisions.

  • plan for your future while you are independent and have decision-making capacity
  • make a list of things important to you for others to consider and respect
  • seek advice before changing your living situation
  • think carefully before moving in with family or friends or before someone moves into your home
  • keep socially active - volunteer, go on outings with friends and visit neighbours
  • get support to continue attending activities for as long as possible
  • stay in touch with relatives, family, friends and support networks
  • maintain contact with businesses where you shop, your bank, service providers, and your general practitioner (GP)
  • ask for help when you need it - seek assistance if you cannot rely on family members
  • become aware of services for seniors and seniors’ information including the South Australian Government’s sa.gov.au webpages, attend seniors forums, ask questions, collect brochures
  • take control of your own decisions and health care; know your rights
  • become aware of the signs of elder abuse and how to prevent it
  • get in writing verbal agreements you or someone makes with you – for example if someone agrees to take care of you in exchange for accommodation
  • have your own phone and open your own mail
  • talk to someone about concerns of abuse early
  • seek mediation services to help resolve family disputes
  • if you are not satisfied with care services you receive in your home or care facility (improper treatment/yelling), tell someone in charge or make a complaint to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
  • complete an Advance Care Directive for your future health care, living arrangements and personal matters and ensure the person you appoint/ you trust can make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions yourself.

If you are a carer

If you’re caring for someone at home, many services are available to help and support you in your caring role. There are things that you can do to make your home safer and more comfortable for you and the person you care for.

Carer Gateway is a national telephone and online service that provides practical information and resources to support carers. The interactive service finder helps carers connect to local support services.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for an older person, the following tips can help:

  • request help, from friends, relatives, neighbours
  • seek support, counselling and advice from community services
  • find assistance from services which understand and support carers
  • learn about ways to reduce and manage stress
  • find a support group
  • take regular breaks, if only for a couple of hours
  • call the Adult Safeguarding Unit on 1800 372 310 for information and support
  • visit Carer Gateway or call 1800 422 737 for further information about respite and day programs
  • call the Carers SA - Carer Advisory and Counselling Service (free call) 1800 052 222, or visit the Carers SA website.
  • stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when you need it
  • seek mediation services to help resolve family disputes
  • if you’re having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help.

More information for carers:

What you can do as a concerned friend or family member

  • watch for signs and behaviours that might indicate elder abuse
  • watch for signs that medication is being used inappropriately, withheld, or taken away
  • watch for possible signs of financial abuse - ask the older person if you have their permission to have a look over their bank accounts and credit card statements for unusual bank transactions
  • make yourself available - social contact with others helps an older person feel confident to talk to someone if issues arise
  • offer to stay with the older person so the caregiver can have a break - on a regular basis, if possible
  • seek information from services that can help an older person make informed decisions and empower them to maintain their independence

If you suspect abuse, call the Adult Safeguarding Unit on 1800 372 310.


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