Primary prevention aims to stop abuse from occurring in the first place by changing the attitudes and social conditions that drive it. By challenging ageist attitudes condoned by society, as well as addressing an individual’s sense of isolation or not being valued, we can try and prevent disrespectful and abusive behaviours towards older people.
In 2020, researchers at the National Ageing Research Institute were funded by Respect Victoria to generate new knowledge on the drivers of family violence against older people and to co-design and pilot a primary prevention initiative to address the problem.
While the coronavirus pandemic put an end to any in-person intergenerational activities, the team were able to run a telephone befriending project where a younger and older participant were paired up over a six-week period. New friendships were forged and stereotypical assumptions (of both generations) were happily challenged through the project.
It’s hoped that in future the project could be scaled up, with the research team identifying the value of formalised mentoring programs, as well as intergenerational programs that aim to alleviate loneliness and psychological distress for all participants.
A report on the project can be accessed here.