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Elder Abuse Awareness & Prevention in Singapore

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Community, Resources

Elder abuse, which encompasses various forms of mistreatment, poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of older individuals. Perpetrated by trusted individuals including family members, caregivers, and others, such abuse manifests in physical, emotional, and financial forms. 


Signs of Elder Abuse

Physical abuse involves acts like hitting or pushing, while neglect may result in a lack of essential care such as food or medical aid. Psychological abuse often takes the form of threats or controlling behavior, while sexual abuse involves non-consensual acts. Additionally, self-neglect occurs when older adults are unable to meet their basic needs, and financial exploitation involves the misuse of funds or resources. Despite the prevalence of elder abuse, victims often hesitate to report it due to fear of societal judgment, concerns about family discord, lack of knowledge on how to seek help, or failure to recognize their own victimization.


How can we identify and help someone?

Supporting victims of elder abuse requires vigilance and empathy from friends and family members. Given that victims may hesitate to report instances of abuse, loved ones play a crucial role in recognizing signs of mistreatment and offering assistance. Observing unusual bruises, signs of fear around caregivers, or distressing sounds from the victim’s home can provide important indicators of abuse. Additionally, being attentive to symptoms such as frequent wounds, withdrawal from normal activities, or neglect of basic needs can signal potential mistreatment.

In demonstrating concern for the victim’s well-being, engaging them in conversation and encouraging them to seek help from trusted individuals or authorities is essential. By fostering an environment where victims feel comfortable disclosing their experiences, friends and family members can provide crucial emotional support and guidance. Moreover, offering practical assistance, such as connecting victims with relevant resources or organizations specializing in elder abuse support, can be invaluable in addressing their needs and ensuring their safety.


How Do I Protect Myself?
1. Seek help. Contact the police (especially in emergencies) or your nearest Family Service Centre (FSC) (alternatively, call ComCare Call Hotline (1800 222 0000) to be redirected to the nearest FSC). A comprehensive list of contacts that include other organisations can be found here.
2. Seek medical attention if you have injuries. Medical reports are confidential so you can tell the doctor the true cause of your injuries. Keep your medical receipt as evidence.
If you intend to apply for a Protection Order under the Woman’s Charter, you will have to ask the doctor to write a medical report for the court.
3. Preserve Evidence Report the incident to the Police as soon as possible, so that any evidence of the assault can be preserved.
4. Make a safety plan for the next time violence or abuse occurs. This includes:
●  Finding pockets of ‘safe times’ (where the abuser is away, distracted or asleep) to contact friends, family or other supporters;
●  Establishing secret codes to alert supporters;
●  Packing and hiding an ‘emergency bag’;
More details on safety plans can be found here.


Legal Actions Against Elder Abuse

The following are laws related to elder abuse.

The Women’s Charter Chapter 353 protects the elderly against family violence. They can apply for a Protection Order from the Family Court to restrain the abuser from using violence. Applicable when the abuser is a family member.
The Maintenance of Parents Act It allows the elderly to seek maintenance (a sum of money) from their children if they are unable to provide for themselves.
The Penal Code Criminalises hurt related offences.
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act (MHCTA) MHCTA protects elderly patients receiving psychiatric treatment from ill treatment or neglect.
Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) safeguards Vulnerable Adults from abuse, neglect, or self-neglect. It is a key part of Singapore’s adult protection framework, together with other laws like the Women’s Charter and Mental Capacity Act. The Act supports the family and community to protect and care for the Vulnerable Adult, and the State steps in as a last resort when family and community intervention fails. However, do note that this Act does not cover financial abuse.


If you suspect that a vulnerable adult is in a life-threatening situation due to abuse, call the police at 999 or SMS 71999. Visit for more information on helping victims of family violence.

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Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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