The ACT Council of the Aged are so concerned about elder abuse in the ACT that they are carrying out a wide-reaching new study into the issue.
COTA believe existing figures are understated and that a "huge" amount of Canberra's elderly are the subject of financial abuse in particular.
The new study comes as assaults in Queensland nursing homes, where residents were bashed, starved and deprived of pain-relief, prompted calls for a state-wide review.
COTA staff member Jane Thomson said there was a study done in the ACT in 2011 which was considered the baseline study of Canberra as an aged-friendly city.
"It was run by the ACT government and they asked a question about elder abuse in it and 6 per cent replied saying they had experienced some form of elder abuse."
But Ms Thomson said that society's view of elder abuse has so far prevented accurate reporting.
"There is a lot of shame around it, people don't like to call it abuse, and people don't know where the line is [drawn] between looking after your parent and being controlling," she said.
As a result, the incidence of abuse in Canberra could be much higher, she said.
"I don't think there is any real data on elder abuse, and that 6 per cent number is the closest we have got and I think it is an underestimate."
Ms Thomson said the council had come to see abuse, particularly of the financial kind, as a real worry as a result of running the seniors information line and a housing advice line for the aged.
"On a regular basis we would get calls which relate to elder abuse. From their experiences and what they are saying about abuse in the community, it seems like it is a really important issue."
She said it was often in the form of children trying to gain funds from the sale of their parent's home.
"There is a lot of financial abuse going on where an adult child will put a lot of pressure on their parents to move into aged care home or a granny flat so they can access the capital from their parent's home."
But without legal contracts and outside help, the parent then can get stuck, she said.
"So they will say 'you move up to Canberra and you sell your house, and we will use that to pay off our mortgage and care for you and everything will be lovely'.
"But when they move in and they don't get on, the child says 'we'd like you to move out now'. So then the parent can be in a position where they are almost homeless or having to move into aged care," she said.
Ms Thomson also said older people living in public housing can be particularly vulnerable.
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