Rights to information, education and freedom of choice: the vulnerable consumer
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Callers to the Office for the Ageing usually want information. Of some 3,000 calls last year, over half were requests for information: nursing homes, guardianship, podiatry, house cleaning, transport, funeral expenses, investment, domiciliary care, health insurance, home equity, retirement villages, house and contents insurance, hostels, dental care, interest rates for pensioners, drug abuse, power of attorney, multicultural services, respite care, making out a will, car insurance, fees to nursing homes, nursing benefits, taxation, pensions, concessions and so on. First we must recognise the vulnerabilities of elderly people, and second we have to work out responses that are sensible and effective. The Nursing Homes and Hostels Enquiry Service received a further 544 calls from November 1988 to June 1989, 197 of which were requests for pre-admission information. Why are elderly consumers vulnerable? In general they are: information starved; discriminated against; compelled to make forced choices.
Speech given at the National Forum on Consumer Rights of the Aged, Canberra, 22nd February 1990, by Adam Graycar, Commissioner for the Ageing, Adelaide, South Australia. This speech is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/