More types of elder abuse should be considered criminal offences

I agree that more forms of exploitation of seniors should be considered criminal offences ("Govt unit saw over 100 cases of vulnerable adult abuse" and "Study flags financial exploitation of elderly"; both published on Oct 3).

Another area of concern is that some family members may even deprive the older person of control over his resources.

Although there has been good work done by the Adult Protective Service in conducting investigations into cases of abuse, especially physical violence and neglect, the unit must also be cognisant of other common problems which are less dramatic, but no less damaging.

There are cases of the use of medication to control an older person's behaviour; this is gravely dangerous.

Given that our population is fast ageing, more cases of elder abuse and neglect will emerge. It is thus imperative that more aspects of such acts of cruelty be considered criminal offences.

Physical assault, from a pinch or slap to a severe beating, is abuse, as are physical negligence and intentional cruelty, like bathing someone in dangerously hot water.

There are problems which are difficult to detect, for example, verbal abuse and malnutrition, and it does not help when prejudiced attitudes towards older people with disabilities blind us to their seriousness.

Hopefully, the situation will be better when social workers and government officers are allowed to enter homes to assess a person's well-being and initiate corrective action.

This is possible only when the Vulnerable Adults Act is legislated, and I hope it will be soon.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng