19 September, 2023

Noticing a senior express signs of depression, anxiety, or possible abuse is never easy.

10 - 15% of older Australians experience depression or anxiety, while one in six older Australians report experiencing elder abuse.

If you’re wondering how to help an older person who seems to be struggling emotionally, it is possible to show that you’re there for them while encouraging them to access professional support.

We offer some advice on helping an elderly person you’re worried about.


Let them know you’re concerned

Gently share your concerns and let them know that you’re here for them.

Speak to them in a safe environment where there is enough time for them to talk. Listen actively without criticising.

Here is a guide on talking to an older person you’re worried about.


Reassure them

Older people can often feel shame and sadness when experiencing a situation like elder abuse.

Reassure them that their feelings are nothing to be ashamed of. Whether they are experiencing anxiety, depression, or abuse, it is not their fault.


Be compassionate

Put yourself in the shoes of your older loved one. If you were in this situation, what would you do? How might you feel? What kind of support would you want from your loved ones?

Responding with empathy and compassion will help build trust and a sense of safety. Having a loved one listen and validate their feelings might be just what your older loved one needs to move forward.


Encourage professional support

Research shows that over half of older adults do not seek psychological help because they believe their symptoms are normal.

Let them know that professional support is out there and off help to access support services online and via phone.


Offer practical support

When someone is going through a hard time, even practical support can make a huge difference.

Here are some practical ways you can help an older person you’re worried about:

  • Check in regularly
  • Invite them to activities
  • Drive them to appointments
  • Help get them out of the house
  • Offer to do their grocery shopping.


Spend time with them

Social isolation is a major cause of poor physical and mental health in seniors.

Spending time with an older person you’re worried about can be extremely beneficial for them.

You can spend time with an older person by:

  • Going for a walk
  • Regular phone calls
  • Watching the sunset
  • Sharing music together
  • Making or having dinner together
  • Playing board games, card games, or doing puzzles.


Connect them with the community

Research supports that seniors who stay connected within their community are at lower risk for anxiety and depression. They are also less vulnerable to experiencing elder abuse.

An older person can connect with the community through:



If you or an older person you know may be a victim of elder abuse, our experienced counsellors are here to help. We can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.


You can learn more about our Elder Abuse Prevention and Support Service here, or call 1300 063 232.



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